Monday, August 31, 2009
In a desire to reach more people, churches have often watered-down doctrinal truths believing that they are creating a more inviting environment for seekers. The Word of God may not be very sensitive to an unbeliever, but it should be intelligible. Make no mistake, the younger generation likes straight-talk. They are tired of the mush.
2. Evangelism Atrophy
Most churches in America aspire to have evangelism as a driving force but they have lost their passion. Ask every one of them, however, and they will proclaim it as a core value. Yet, a quick look at their checkbook, annual budget and programs will tell the truth. For most churches in America evangelism is a great thought and desire, but in all actuality very little in the way of evangelism is done.
3. Failure To Be Relevant
The Gospel was not written in a cultural vacuum. The words we read today were written thousands of years ago. They still apply today, but we must learn to understand them in their cultural context and then find ways to help 21st century people understand.
Church is no different. We have to do church in a way that connects with this culture otherwise the church simply becomes a huddled mass of cloistered believers hiding from a sin-sick world.
4. Inwardly Focused
The new unspoken mantra of the modern American church is; “It’s all about me.” While no one will readily admit it, all one has to do is look at the ministries and programs. What can be quickly discovered is that most churches build ministries to satisfy the already fed. These programs are good to keep the flock happy. Not necessarily a bad thing, but too much of a good thing ends up being a bad thing.
5. Personal Conflict
Church people have found a way to make an argument out of almost anything. Political power struggles rule the day.
6. A Priority Of Comfort
Dying churches refuse to reach out beyond their own comfort-zones. When any real ministry does happen and dirty, sinful people walk in among the righteous, it upsets the apple cart. It simply isn’t comfortable.
7. Biblical Illiteracy
The latest research by Gallup and other pollsters reveal that most long time members of churches don’t really know what they Bible says. Phrases like; “God helps those who help themselves” are regularly quoted as scripture.
It amazes me the amount of money many dying churches have in their saving accounts. The thought is that they are saving it for a rainy day, but I wonder what God thinks about this? Will he be happy if we, like the man with one talent, have not invested his Kingdom resources in the Great co-mission work when returns. Which would be best; Die rich, having saved our resources and done as little as we can get by with, or Die broke with the knowledge that we have done all we can.
9. Failure to Follow
Too often pastors are treated like hirelings and not called, anointed people of God. The pastor is forced to walk on eggshells to avoid losing their job.
You may think this is absent from today’s Church, but it is very alive. Beloved programs, versions of the Bible, furniture, paintings on the wall and the placement of objects have caused more quarrels than I care to mention. We have taken these items to god-like levels in the church and forgotten the main thing.
[from Essential Church by Thom and Sam Rainer]
Read this from the Orlando Sentinel: "There are 250 Circuit City stores that have gone dark," said Matthew D. Messier, who specializes in faith-based and nonprofit real estate for CNL Specialty Real Estate Services in Orlando. "Through 'adaptive reuse,' churches have stepped in. ... Because of what's happened with the economy, there are more options for churches now."
The International Council of Shopping Centers has no data to support the trend but said it's apparent throughout the country. "Vacancy rates are high, and they need to fill those spaces," said Erin Hershkowitz, a spokeswoman for the industry group. "If it's a big box, like a Circuit City, that's a perfect venue for a church."
During boom times, commercial landlords rarely wooed churches. Houses of worship typically draw parishioners the one day of the week when neighboring stores are closed and cannot benefit from the foot traffic. Upstart churches have been leasing empty storefronts for years, though they tend to move on when they outgrow the space or can afford more-attractive quarters. But shopping centers are now filled with For Lease posters. And unconventional space in high-traffic retail settings has become so attractive to some churches that they are leaving their old sanctuaries for trendier digs.
The Rev. Byron Bledsoe, former pastor of Parkway Baptist Church in east Orange, recalls getting national recognition years ago from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for baptizing new members. But on the flight home from the awards ceremony in Kentucky, Bledsoe said, he knew the church could do a better job of attracting newcomers to Christianity rather than "rechurching" members from other congregations. So he helped lead an effort to transform the church. It was renamed C3 Church, which stands for Connecting the Community with Christ. It renovated its fellowship hall and soon began attracting newcomers. But Parkway's steepled sanctuary still did not convey the image of a church dynamic enough to draw potential converts to the faith. "We knew early on that our facilities were a hindrance to what we were trying to accomplish," Bledsoe said. "We had a ton of resources locked up in bricks and mortar."
Working through Messier and Nicholas A. McKinney at CNL, the church in 2007 sold its buildings and 20 acres on Lake Underhill Road for $8million to Eastland Baptist Church, which had lost its property to an interchange expansion at State Road 436 and Colonial Drive. C3 Church now leases space for its sanctuary from Regal Cinemas in Waterford Lakes Town Center. Its offices are in a three-car garage at Bledsoe's home.
[from MMI Weblog]
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Thomas Euteneuer, president of Human Life International, released this statement concerning Senator Kennedy. "We must, as a matter of precept, pray for the salvation of heretical Catholics like Senator Edward Kennedy, but we do not have to praise him, let alone extol him with the full honors of a public Catholic funeral and all the adulation that attends such an event."
He adds that while Senator Kennedy called himself Catholic, like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden, they are actually wolves in sheep's clothing. "They do not hold to the teaching of the church. They, in fact, take every opportunity seemingly to contradict the teaching of our church," Euteneuer says. "So in the case of Senator Edward Kennedy, he was not only against his church's teaching on the issue of abortion, but the same with embryonic stem cell research, the same with gay marriage and various other issues which set him in diametric opposition to his church's very well-defined and clearly articulated teaching."
Euteneuer says he is speaking out now to remind everyone that Catholics cannot honor a person with a full and public Catholic funeral when, like Senator Kennedy, he really was not.
[by Pete Chagnon - OneNewsNow]
Friday, August 28, 2009
Thanks for talking with me the other day. Most leaders are overwhelmed at some point. Whether it is the amount of work they have and not enough time to get it done, or because they don’t know what to do next, there is a way out of it.
First, it takes considerable prayer. Most leaders get overwhelmed and fail to pray. From personal experience, I’ve found that overwhelmed leaders need to pray more. They need to pray for guidance, wisdom, and strength. Commit yourself to pray more, even if it means that some of your duties take a lower priority for a while.
Next, you need to remember that you shouldn’t be alone. As John C. Maxwell constantly reminds us, leaders without followers are simply taking a walk. You need people around you to support you, as you can’t do it by yourself. Slow down and figure out if some of what you are doing could be done by others. It may require some time to train others, but it is about more than just the time to take the action. The more work you have the more burden you have. You likely need to lighten your load.
Finally, if you just aren’t sure where to go next with your leadership then you may need some time off. Equip your team to survive without you. Take a much needed break. Refresh your spirit and your passion. Perhaps God is calling you to something else. If not, it may just be a time for you to take a sabbath from your leadership. This may be for just a weekend or for a few weeks. Don’t leave your team in the dark. Work with your team and your fellow leaders to build a plan into your team.
I pray that this guidance helps you deal with the issues at hand.
[from Agile Ministry by James Higginbotham]
I know it has been a struggle for you to lead while feeling like you are on the outside of your church leaders. Dealing with cliques can be a difficult time. It often reminds us of high school and can lead us to act like we are still there. I have a few thoughts on how to handle this kind of situation - I hope they help you out.
The Bible teaches us that David went through the same thing with Saul. It took David years of being on the outside before he became king and was able to lead effectively. In that time, he was chased, hunted, and had spears thrown at him. During this time, David spent many days alone and in hiding, with only the Lord to guide him.
While being on the outside may not be as bad as what David went through, it can be a tough situation to endure. Make sure you are listening and talking with God during this time. This may be a time when God wants to shape your heart and passion in a way that would not happen otherwise. Just like David, Moses went through 40 years before God fully prepared him to lead a nation.
While your leadership may never be as large as David or Moses, it is important to accept where you are at and to keep moving. God has a purpose for you and lessons to teach you. He wants to prepare you for bigger things, and this is likely one of those seasons.He may keep you where you are at a bit longer before something changes. Keep at it. Obey the Lord. Seek His counsel.
Finally, remember to focus on your team. Your team is looking to you for direction and leadership. Give it to them. Even if you don’t get the same thing from the leaders above you. Be the leader you need, not the ones you see.
All the best in your leadership journey.
[from Agile Ministry by James Higginbotham]
I’m very proud of you. I remember when you first started your leadership journey - you seemed so eager and passionate about your vision. Over time, I’ve seen you deal with being overwhelmed and being on the outside. There have been times when you seemed to be driven by your sinful nature, but thankfully you overcame that through wisdom and counsel. Now I see a mature leader that has learned a lot.
I have only one more thing to teach you - it is time to teach other leaders. As I have taught you, it is time for you to teach someone else in the ways of leading volunteers in the church. You may not think you have a lot to say. You may not think you have a lot to teach. You do.
Each of us takes a different journey. No matter which path you have taken to get here, it is time to train the next generation. The leaders God provides to you to train will need your honesty. They will need your guidance when times get confusing. They will need your shoulder when times get tough. They will need your prayers, both when they are around and when they come to mind.
Please invest yourself into another leader. The church is begging for leaders that are willing to sacrifice some of their personal time to lead. You don’t have to be in full-time ministry to train leaders. You also don’t need to be a best selling author. You just need to be willing to let God shape you into a leader of leaders, one leader at a time.
Let me know what you decide.
[from Agile Ministry by James Higginbotham]
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I receive a fair amount of communication, announcements, snail mail, email, forwards, voice mail, text messages, and phone calls. I read a lot of newsletters, Blogs and web sites. I hear a lot of interaction in person.
I am exposed to many situations both inside and outside the church. And, I do understand human emotions and the challenge of conflict resolution. I've seen so many situations where a conversation gets out of control and hurtful words are said in a moment of anger -- all because a leader didn't know how to (or chose not to) defuse the situation with a gentle answer. I have learned from my own mistakes.
I wonder how many staff members have been fired and friendships completely severed because neither individual knew how to minimize the damage through carefully chosen words? I meet people all the time who won't even speak to a former leader because of the pain.
If you were able to reverse time and observe the conversations that preceded a broken relationship -- I wonder how many times we would find that this one Bible verse was ignored.
How great would it be if leaders could remember:
- You don't have to say everything that comes into your head.
- You don't have to have the last word.
- It actually helps if you seek first to understand ... rather than to be understood.
- Email is a very bad tool for resolving conflict. It almost always escalates the tension.
- Phrases like "you always" and "you never" are rarely helpful.
- Questions are almost always better than statements.
- You really don't know it all.
- God has the ability to speak to others also.
- The issue is probably not the presenting issues. If you listen, you might learn the real issue.
- It doesn't matter how obvious it seems, you do not know everyone's heart.
[from LeadingSmart by Tim Stevens]
Authorities have now warned clergy in Anadarko, Okla., to be vigilant days after a Pentecostal pastor was found brutally slain in her own church. An autopsy determined Carol Daniels died of "multiple sharp force injuries" but police have not released further details. "This is the most horrific crime scene I've ever witnessed," District Attorney Bret Burns said.
Authorities are now warning pastors that they should take precautions at their buildings, even as police refused to say exactly what happened.
District Attorney Bret Burns, who described the killing as "horrific," held a closed-door session with about two dozen pastors, along with members of law enforcement. Several pastors who were there said authorities did not discuss any facts of the case.
"We talked about security issues within their churches and their congregations," Burns said. "We asked them to remain vigilant and be aware of their surroundings and their church locations." He did not say why the meeting was held just with pastors rather than the community at large, or what kind of a threat the clergy might face.
The body of 61-year-old Pentecostal Pastor Carol Daniels was found Sunday in the Christ Holy Sanctified Church in Anadarko. A preliminary autopsy found she died of "multiple sharp force injuries," but law enforcement declined to elaborate and have been tight-lipped about details of the crime or a possible motive.
Burns did not rule out the possibility that the killer specifically targeted a pastor or a church.
"There are a lot of things we're not prepared to rule out," he said. "I'm concerned about the nature of this crime. I'm concerned about the community."
No arrests have been made, and the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction.
Tracy Schumpert, pastor of the town's First United Methodist Church where the meeting was held, met afterward with a worker from an alarm company.
"I think we'll take precautions," she said. "But I don't feel overly fearful.
"You want your church to be accessible, but you also are aware of what the world is like and you're aware of the people you minister to and take precautions."
Ben Sullivan, executive director of the Christian Center of Anadarko, which runs a soup kitchen and food pantry, said he's not fearful of another attack but plans to tighten security at his facility a few blocks away from where the killing happened. He said the center will probably close before dark and volunteers will work in pairs.
"We're always keeping our eyes open because of the work we do. We deal with people that aren't in the best of situations," he said.
Daniels, who lived in Oklahoma City, made the 60-mile drive to Anadarko every week, even though the small, weather-beaten church had no regular congregation.
On Wednesday, a makeshift memorial of stuffed animals, flowers and a candle stood at the front door of the church, where a sign with Daniels' name read: "God Loves You!"
Police are warning local religious leaders to secure their churches telling pastors, "be safety-conscious with their staff and their surroundings."
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
The second book said Jesus didn't come back in 1988 because the author, who was a former NASA engineer (!), missed his mathematical calculations by a year.
The mood of the 1980s was uneasy. After Ronald Reagan was elected president, some Christians began to surmise that Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was the Antichrist. When he died they gave the title to the next Soviet leader, Yury Andropov, and then to his successor, Konstantin Chernenko. When Chernenko died unexpectedly, people were certain that Mikhail Gorbachev was the Antichrist because he had that awful red birthmark on his forehead.
But Jesus didn't return during Gorbachev's tenure. In fact the Soviet system crumbled and Christian missionary activity began to blossom all over the cold Russian landscape. The people who expected the sky to fall any minute found someone else to fill the Antichrist's shoes. First it was Bill Gates, then Osama bin Laden. Today it's a toss-up between Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan despot Hugo Chávez.
Through the years there have been gloomy rumors about computer chips and global conspiracy. I remember one story warning us that JCPenney credit cards carried the mark of the beast. Today if you believe everything you read on the Internet, that same evil mark is on President Barack Obama's birth certificate.
All this date-setting and foolish prognostication bothers me because Jesus said it is strictly off-limits. He told His disciples before His ascension, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority" (Acts 1:7, NASB). That means we don't have the right to predict the date of His return or to make guesses about the timeline of final judgment.
The apostle Paul also warned the early church to stay away from date-setting. He told Timothy: "But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels" (2 Tim. 2:23). Paul wanted his followers to keep their focus on the main thing — the spreading of the gospel — so they wouldn't get sidetracked.Christians hold different views of the last days. Pre-millennialists focus on the imminent rapture of the church — an event that is described in the New Testament. Post-millennialists focus on the triumph of Christ through history — something that is also reinforced in the book of Revelation. Preterists emphasize the ever-increasing government of God — which Isaiah and other prophets spoke of.
I am not writing here to push a particular view of the end times. When people ask me about my eschatological position I tell them I am a "pan-millennialist" — as in: "It will all pan out in the end." I know Jesus will return in triumph. But we can't figure out these things beforehand. Anyone who claims to be an "expert" in the mysteries of Christ's return has forgotten that Jesus Himself said, "Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone" (Matt. 24:36).
What concerns me most about an unhealthy focus on eschatology is that it distracts us from the ultimate priority of evangelism.
[by J. Lee Grady]
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
ANADARKO, Okla. — A pastor in southwest Oklahoma was killed and her body was found inside her church, but authorities had few leads in the investigation, officials said.
The body of Carol Daniels was found Sunday inside the Christ Holy Sanctified Church in Anadarko. The small A-frame building sits along a main road in the Caddo County town of about 6,600 people, which is about 60 miles southwest of Oklahoma City.
Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Jessica Brown said Daniels had trauma to her body, but officials did not disclose details about the killing, including how, when or where she died.
Investigators said they have no suspects in Daniels’ death and few leads to follow. Officials on Sunday spoke with several people who gathered around the building after word about the slaying spread. Many of them wept and hugged each other.
Brown said Daniels, who was in her mid-50s, lived in Oklahoma City and drove to the church each Sunday for services.
Mitchell Pendarvis, who lives next door to the church, was surprised to hear about the killing.
“I don’t know what to think and I’m trying to think,” Pendarvis said. “I mean, who would do this to this woman?”
[from Church Security Member by Glen]
Monday, August 24, 2009
The activities of the CIA in carrying out the policies of the Bush Administration were directly responsible for defeating all efforts by al Qaeda to launch further mass casualty attacks against the United States. The people involved deserve our gratitude. They do not deserve to be the targets of political investigations or prosecutions. President Obama’s decision to allow the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute CIA personnel, and his decision to remove authority for interrogation from the CIA to the White House, serves as a reminder, if any were needed, of why so many Americans have doubts about this Administration’s ability to be responsible for our nation’s security.
[Vice President Dick Cheney]
I'm sorry, but I just don't get it.
We are going to stimulate the economy by pumping $600 billion into it. That money can't be spent fast enough. But the elderly will now loose their annual increases?
Instead of giving billions to large corporations, why not help the little people? I thought the Republicans were for corporations and Democrats were for the little people.
We can afford cash for clunkers, but we can't afford to help the elderly? Am I the only one confused?
Has the next generation now come into power and decided to get rid of the aging generation? Managed health care that determines if the aged is worth the cost? Before my Mom died, I bought her meds for her because there was no drug benefit for an 85 year old widow.
I don't see anything being fixed.
First, I want to thank you for your willingness to commit to being a leader. There are many that are too busy or too afraid to step up and lead others in the church. Your leadership is greatly appreciated and I look forward to how God will use you to positively impact your church and community.
Next, I want to give you a word of encouragement. There may be times when you doubt your ability to lead. There may also be times when you doubt that God truly called you to be a leader. Don’t let this doubt get you down - we all go through it. The important thing to remember is that God wants 2 things from you: a surrendered life and a willing heart. If you remember that, you will be able to get through the tough times that are ahead.
Finally, I want to remind you that your team will need a vision. God says that where there is no vision, the people perish. This means that your vision must carry them through the tough times and the fun times. The vision needs to be God-given and something that people will rally around. If you define your team’s vision, share the vision with the team often, and remind them of the vision during the busy times, your team will continue to grow and be effective.
That’s all for now. I’ll write more when I have time.
[from Agile Ministry by James Higginbotham]
Sunday, August 23, 2009
But how can anyone add value to others if he doesn’t know what they care about? Listen to people. Ask them what matters to them. And observe them. If you can discover how people spend their time and money, you’ll know what they value.
Once you know what matters to them, do your best to meet their needs with excellence and generosity. Offer your best with no thought toward what you might receive in return. President Calvin Coolidge believed that “no enterprise can exist for itself alone. It ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others; or failing therein it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist.”
[from Failing Forward]
Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson had been told by the lawyer of Fathima Rifqa Bary that the born-again teen, who goes by Rifqa, wants to stay with her foster family in Florida until she turns 18 next year.
During the hearing Friday, Rifqa told the judge that she loves Jesus and wants to be able to worship freely without fear of physical violence. Rifqa has publicly said in the court and to the media that she fears her life is in danger for leaving Islam.
“If I had stayed in Ohio, I wouldn’t be alive,” Rifqa told Orlanda, Fla.-based WFTV, in an interview. “In 150 generations in family, no one has known Jesus. I am the first – imagine the honor in killing me.
“There is great honor in that, because if they love Allah more than me, they have to do it. It’s in the Quran,” she added.
Rifqa’s father, however, in an interview with Ohio news station WBNS-TV has denied ever threatening his daughter and claims she has been “brainwashed” by the pastor who has been sheltering her.
In court Friday, Mohamed Bary said if his daughter is returned home, she can practice whatever religion she wants, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
The Barys’ lawyers say they are even willing to allow her to stay in a foster home if she returns to Ohio.
Rifqa’s lawyer, however, said the real threat is the radical Muslims in Columbus, Ohio – said to be a center for suspected terrorists. Some, the lawyer claimed, have already made the girl their target.
Following Friday’s hearing, Judge Dawson ordered the teen girl to remain in the state while the Florida Department of Law Enforcement determines whether her home is safe as her parents claim.
In response to the judge’s decision, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist released his first statement Friday, saying: "I am grateful to Circuit Judge Daniel Dawson for his decision to grant Fathima Rifqa Bary the right to remain in Florida.”
"We will continue to fight to protect Rifqa's safety and wellbeing as we move forward," he added.
It has been about a month since Rifqa ran away from her home by boarding a bus and traveling 1,000 miles to Orlando.
Rifqa – whose case is complicated by the fact that she is a minor and not a U.S. citizen – says that while she converted years ago, her parents did not discover her new faith until friends at their mosque recently alerted her parents about her Christian postings on Facebook.
The Bary family emigrated from Sri Lanka, where the population is mainly comprised of Buddhist (69.1 percent) with small communities of Muslims (7.6 percent), Hindus (7.1 percent), and Christians (6.2 percent).
All parties are expected to return to court on Sept. 3.
Friday, August 21, 2009
As the years passed I kept hearing all nations and all people, but images of the poor and indigent in far away lands seemingly stayed in my mind. Then one October day in 2007 God opened my eyes to the extent of the meaning of ALL. I am a member of the Gideons International, an international association of Christian business and professional men with one purpose, winning souls for the Lord Jesus Christ. We have two methods of accomplishing our mission, personal witnessing and placing the Word of God in different places such as hotels, motels, hospitals and several other strategic locations. In October, we generally carry out what is one of my favorite parts of the Bible distribution ministry, placing copies of The New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs into the hands of fifth grade students. It has always been rewarding as I watched young students’ eyes light up as they receive a copy of God’s word, and I have heard many testimonies throughout my thirty one years in the ministry of this being the only Bible in a home.
On this particular day in October 2007, I visited two schools in Gadsden, Alabama. The schools were Floyd Elementary and the Episcopal Day School. It had been my assignment for the past seven or eight years to distribute testaments in these schools, so this was a familiar environment. Floyd Elementary is a title one school, in the state of Alabama that is a school for children from low income families. The Episcopal Day School is quite different; it is private and has enrollments of four to seven students per grade. As you can imagine, the students from these schools are from very different socio-economic levels. I prepared myself prayerfully as always prior to a Bible distribution, thanking God for the open door to place his word and praying that his word will not return void (Isaiah 55:11).
My first stop was Floyd Elementary. When I arrived the two fifth grade classes, which totaled around fifty five to sixty students, were in the computer lab. I was led there to make the distribution. As customary, the teacher allowed me to explain who the Gideons are and our purpose. Students were then invited to come forward and take a testament from the box. As the line dwindled to the last of the students, I heard the teacher say,”I didn’t hear thank you Mr. Weaver.” The children expressed their gratitude, but a little girl named Tianna was much more expressive than the others. Tianna jumped forward and threw her arms around me and hugged me tightly and said, “Thank you, thank you, thank you.” When she released her embrace, she danced backwards waving her testament in front of her face as she exclaimed, “I finally got one of my own!” I left the school praising God and “floating”. After twenty-nine years and distributions in four states I had just witnessed someone receive their first Bible.
Next, I went to the Episcopal Day School, still floating. I was escorted to the fifth grade classroom, which held approximately five students and again made the presentation and distribution. As I was leaving, I passed the student closest to the door, a young boy named Jason. He said something in a low voice that I could not understand. I asked him to repeat what he had said, he replied, “This is my first Bible.” Now I was floating, two times in less than one hour.
After I was away from the school and some time had passed, the experience of the morning went through my mind again and I thought of the two very different neighborhoods, but with the exact same need. In addition, the image of Africa as “the” mission field was finally broken and the new image of ALL has since been in its place. In the absence of disease, polluted water, and hostile environment, a mission fields seems less dangerous, especially when surrounded by scapes of peaceful neighborhoods and upscale homes. But is any mission field ever void of dangers? What about the desire for upward social mobility? In consideration of this, I would like to refer to the story of Gideon in the book of Judges.
When Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land, they reveled in military victories and began possessing the land of milk and honey, which God had promised them. Prior to their entry into the Promised Land, God’s instruction to the Israelites was to rid the land of the Canaanites. Scholars have developed different interpretations of the meaning of “ridding the land of the Canaanites”. Some interpret a more literal theory of exterminating all of the inhabitants while others believe only the leadership. It is not the purpose of this article to debate or take a position on this issue. The issue at hand is that many of the Canaanites remained and the Israelites did not evangelize them as the holy scriptures confirm that Abraham’s people were to do by “blessing all nations” (or people). Instead the opposite happened; the Israelite people were evangelized by the Canaanites and began worshiping Baal with them. The attraction was so strong, Gideon’s last two pleas to God for confirmation of his calling to be deliverer of Israel involved dew, Baal supposedly controlled the dew.
What caused the attraction to Baal? First, let us take a brief look at history: God sent Moses to deliver His people from Egyptian bondage and harsh slavery; provided for them throughout their forty year journey; totally destroyed what was at the time the world’s most powerful army by miraculously redirecting the forces of nature; gave them the land of Canaan and military victories to possess it; sent them deliverers every time they called up on Him to save them. However, these were still poor nomadic Jews coexisting with the Canaanite people who were wealthier. Instead of accepting their promise from God and living with faith in Him, the Hebrew people were diverted to an existing culture that was appealing to them. In short, they were victims of lust for upward social mobility.
Certainly, upward social mobility is a much more subtle danger than what is generally thought of when considering the dangers of the mission field. This danger is also hidden in comfort and beauty and viewed by most as the “good life”. My intentions here are not to criticize upper class society, but to warn that God sends us to places that may be different and appealing to us and we must take care not to be snared by lust. (After all who would seek someone else’s poverty?) In conclusion, we are all called to serve as missionaries at some level or to some degree, but we must always be aware that in some form the fowler’s snare is always there.
Jack G. Weaver, Jr.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
Gary Bauer, president of American Values, says President Obama is committed to repealing DOMA -- but does not want to take the political flak that would come along with it.
"What the White House wants is for a court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act so that the White House and the president don't have to take the political damage for undermining a law that protects normal marriage," he explains. Bauer argues Obama is contradicting a campaign pledge. "President Obama ran promising he would be open and transparent, and no longer practice the usual politics of Washington, DC," he notes. "Millions of people voted for him because they thought he would be more honest and more open in the way he governed."
According to Bauer, that is not happening. "What we're seeing here is something more reminiscent of the way they do politics in the wards of Chicago -- saying one thing and then doing something else behind the scenes," he states. If the Defense of Marriage Act is overturned by White House maneuvering or a federal court, every state would be forced to recognize same-sex "marriages" that are now legal in states like Massachusetts.
Friday, August 14, 2009
While most of those searches returned clean records or minor traffic-related offenses, 80 screenings reportedly uncovered serious felony offenses, and more than 600 people had some type of criminal history that may have disqualified them from volunteering or working at a church.
That means around 13.6 percent, or roughly one in seven, of applicants were found to have a criminal history.
“Good guys don’t wear superhero capes, and bad guys don’t always have shifty eyes and devious-sounding chuckles. In real life, discerning the heroes from the villains often requires more than a visual assessment,” commented Brooklyn Noel Lowery, a spokesperson for LifeWay.
“That means you can’t know whether someone is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ by looking at them when they walk through the front door of your church and volunteer to serve,” she added. “That’s why LifeWay Christian Resources entered an agreement with Backgroundchecks.com to provide discounted screenings for churches.”
According to a 2005 study conducted by researchers at the University of New Hampshire and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one in 12 (82 of 1000) youth aged 2 to 17 nationwide experienced sexual victimization, including sexual assault (32 per 1000) and attempted or completed rape (22 per 1000).
"Of all the crimes against children in the U.S. every year, thousands will occur within the walls of churches and youth centers," commented Matthew Robbins with Backgroundchecks.com. "With crime and abuse at an all time high, churches must develop hiring programs that work to prevent dangerous situations before they occur."
When LifeWay entered into the agreement with Backgroundchecks.com, its affiliated denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, was under pressure to fight child sex abuse amid a few high-profile allegations against Baptist clergy.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) began lobbying the SBC about three years ago after having been a key advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church, which was rocked by abuse scandals starting in 2002.
Though the SBC has witnessed far fewer cases of abuse, SNAP has been calling on the nation’s largest Protestant denomination to establish an independent review board to hear molestation reports and to institute a national zero-tolerance policy.
During the SBC’s annual convention last year, however, the denomination’s executive committee opted against establishing an office to field abuse claims and against creating its own database to help churches identify predators.
While the committee decried sexual abuse as reprehensible and a sin, it said the Southern Baptist principle of local church autonomy means it's up to individual churches - and not the church body - to screen employees and take action against offenders.
The committee did, however, urge churches to vigorously conduct background checks using a U.S. Department of Justice database of sexual offenders.
In its report, "Responding to the Evil of Sexual Abuse," the committee also urged local congregations to share information when warranted with other churches.
[By Joshua A. Goldberg, Christian Post Reporter]
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
The Cathedral at Chapel Hill, founded by the late Earl Paulk Jr., was purchased by Greater Traveler's Rest Baptist Church in Decatur, Ga., for $17.6 million, according to CNL Specialty Real Estate in Orlando, Fla., which brokered the deal that closed on Monday.
CONTINUE READING ARTICLE
[Charisma News Online]
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Also, with approval of the Seminary Board of Directors and the International Executive Council of the Church of God, the Church of God Theological Seminary has a new name: PENTECOSTAL THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY.
Seminary President Steven Jack Land said, "This re-affirms our Wesleyan-Pentecostal theology and is a strategic broadening of our ability to serve across the entire span of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement. The Seminary continues to enjoy international recognition as a benchmark Pentecostal school which demonstrates breadth of understanding, spiritual-academic excellence and a passionate commitment to mission."
He concluded by saying, "We are now what we have been since 1975 -- Pentecostal to the core!"
For more information, CLICK HERE.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
“North Korea is suspected of detaining more political and religious prisoners than any other country in the world,” wrote Jerry Dykstra, media relations director for Open Doors USA, in a column Wednesday.
His organization estimates at least 200,000 people are detained in North Korea, including 40,000 to 60,000 Christians.
In North Korea, it is illegal to criticize the government, leave the country, fail to have a picture of Kim Il-Sung in one’s house, own a Bible, or practice Christianity. Leaving the country to search for food in China will result in imprisonment if the person is caught, and owning a Bible or being found to be a practicing Christian will result in imprisonment or public execution.
Just last month, Ri Hyon-Ok, 33, was accused of distributing Bibles and “spying” for South Korea and the Untied States. She was executed by the North Korean government. Her husband, children and parents were sent to a political prison camp the day after her execution, The Associated Press reported.
The North Korean regime is known for imprisoning not only the suspected “criminal,” but also three generations of his or her family to “root out” the bad influence.
Open Doors this year ranked North Korea as the worst persecutor of Christians in the world for the seventh straight year. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department re-designated the rogue country as one of eight “Countries of Particular Concern” for systematic and egregious religious freedom violations.
For months, U.S. journalists Laura Ling and Euna Lee had lived amid this lack of respect for human rights.
The two women were arrested in March while reporting on the border of China and North Korea. The North Korean government accused the women of illegally entering the country and carrying out a smear campaign.
In June, they were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for the above charges.
“We feared at any moment that we could be sent to a hard labor camp and then suddenly we were told we were going to a meeting,” recalled Ling at a news conference Wednesday morning shortly after their plane arrived at a Burbank, Calif., airport.
“We were taken to a location, and when we walked through the doors, we saw standing before us President Bill Clinton,” she continued. “We were shocked, but we knew instantly in our hearts that the nightmare of our lives was finally coming to an end.”
Former President Bill Clinton made an unannounced visit to Pyongyang on Tuesday to discuss the journalists’ release. After several hours of discussion, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il issued a special pardon to the two Americans.
President Obama, former President Bill Clinton, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have all released statements expressing joy over the release of the American journalists.
“I think that not only is this White House … extraordinarily happy, but all Americans should be grateful to both former President Clinton and Vice President Gore for their extraordinary work,” Obama said.
Dykstra of Open Doors agrees that Americans should rejoice over the release of Ling and Lee who now have complete freedom in the United States. But he also urges people to pray and advocate “for those who have not received pardons; for those languishing in the ‘hell’ that is North Korea.”
[By Michelle A. Vu, Christian Post Reporter]
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
In a new effort to reach the formerly churched, Outreach, Inc. offers a new resource series to churches specifically designed to bring people Back to Church . The program empowers current church members with the tools they need to invite neighbors, friends and loved ones who may have attended church before but have since stopped.
"People are busy. Their circumstances tend to control their schedules. Some had a bad experience in church," said Eric Abel, Vice President of Marketing Products at Outreach, Inc. "Sometimes people just can't decide which church to attend, and others are afraid there won't be anyone there like them. The Back to Church resources help churches to welcome these formerly churched folks with warmth and relevance” According to Lifeway Research, 38% of people are receptive or highly receptive to attending church. 82% say they would be open to attending church if a friend invited them. But, unfortunately only 21% of active church going Christians invited someone to church last year! The Back To Church Campaign was designed to encourage participation and empower church members to be inviters. Back to Church will include a variety of invitation styles and tools, including postcards, imagery, multimedia, sermon ideas and support, welcome signs and gifts, and other materials. All the resources focus on re-introducing people to the God who hasn't changed, even if they have, and who would meet them "just as they are" if they decided to return to Him.
More information about these resources is available at http://www.outreach.com/.
Monday, August 3, 2009
The five-day meeting of leaders from the 51-million-member body will be a time to conduct business, set policy for its ministers, elect officials, and allow the leadership to cast vision and set the course for where the largest Pentecostal movement in the world is going as a church.
“This fellowship was built with the philosophy that says collectively we really are stronger than individually. And that is so true,” says Doug Clay, general treasurer of the Assemblies of God.
“When you see how big we are globally, it’s motivational,” he adds. “So at General Council, you do get to hear reports from the world, you do get to see what God is doing in other parts – not only domestically, here in the United States, but around the world. And it sort of gives you a sense of belonging.”
In the United States, the Assemblies of God is one of a handful of denominations that has continued to grow in membership and influence in the past decade.
According to the recently released Annual Church Ministries Report, the Assemblies of God reported an increase in adherents for the 19th consecutive year and now claims more than 2.8 million followers.
Last year, the number of adherents went up by 1.3 percent – an increase that statistician Sherri Doty called a significant gain.
"The U.S. population grows by about one percent a year," she told the Assemblies of God News Service. "This is an indication that we are growing faster than the population. And in light of the steady declines in attendance by other religious organizations over the past years, this is encouraging news.”
Despite their growth, or perhaps as a result of it, Assemblies of God leaders this year will be making some adjustments to their General Council, kicking it off Monday with a first of its kind event – the Influence Leadership Seminar.
“’Influence: Leadership in High Definition’ was a desire to sort of morph General Council from just being a come-and-do-business to a come-and-learn experience,” explains Clay in a preview of the General Council.
“So we went after some of the premiere church leaders and persons that God’s using to expand His Kingdom through the local church today, and are bringing them to just equip, inspire ... to be catalysts for creating new ideas and new paradigms within our ministers,” he says.
Church leaders expected to speak during the Aug. 3-4 leadership seminar include Mark Batterson, lead pastor for National Community Church in Washington; Beth Moore, founder of Living Proof Ministries; and Ed Young Jr., founding and senior pastor of Fellowship Church in Grapevine, Texas.
At the conclusion of General Council, the hope of the denomination's leadership is that more will have been accomplished than simply the election of a new executive leadership team or the approval or disapproval of the some 26 resolutions that will be presented.
“Our leadership has been really praying that there would be a spiritual chemistry about Council that takes place in the hearts of our credentialed ministers,” says Clay.
“We really pray that people will leave Council motivated and inspired in terms of their calling, renewed to go back to the place where they’re expressing their calling – whether it’s in a local church or a para-church ministry or overseas ...” he adds.
The General Council concludes with the National Fine Arts Festival Celebration Service Friday night at the Orange County Convention Center, where much of activities this week will be held.
[By Joshua A. Goldberg, Christian Post Reporter]
Sunday, August 2, 2009
A man approached a group of people standing outside the west side church and shot one man. As he fled, he turned and was able to shoot five additional people.
Inner city churches face violence on a daily basis, and many have an informal church security plan. It is apparent the sacred place of a church is no longer protected from anyone bent on violence.
At noon, the Gospel Truth Life Church at 5301 W. Madison was filled with an overflow crowd — with more funeral attendees standing outside when shots were fired, Chicago police said.
[from Church Security Member by Glen]