Saturday, January 17, 2009

U.S. Military Bows to ACLU Demands

Americans entering the military often receive Bibles, courtesy of the Gideons International. But the Gideons have been told that while they can leave complimentary Bibles at most military induction stations, they cannot stay there to proselytize or preach to the recruits.

Daniel Trew, public information officer for the Military Entrance Processing Command, says the policy was recently established after concerns were raised by the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Our legal person went with a representative from the ACLU to one of our stations, and we actually found where the Gideons' individual at that station was getting up and talking to applicants who had just enlisted," he explains. "We could not allow that to go on because the applicants could perceive that this talk was given under the auspices of the Department of Defense." Trew says the Gideons have agreed to abide by the policy.

[Associated Press]

Pastor, I Am Praying For You

I bleed for pastors, and I pray for pastors all the time. I understand the frustrations, share your hurt, and rejoice in your victories.

Praying for other co-laborers in ministry is far more important than many of the things I do, because your ministry of pastoring - the calling to care for a local Body of Christ - is the greatest responsibility one can be given on earth. If you understand what life, the Cross, the Church, and the future are all about, you know that nothing else compares in significance. Period.

Today, our culture idolizes entertainment, sports, business success, political power, and prosperity. While these have their place, Jesus did not die for any of these things. He died for the people that you care for, feed, and lead.

Nothing matters more than the Church. We forget that the reason God created the entire universe is because he wanted a family, and that family is the only thing that will last forever with Him. Everything else on this planet is temporary, no matter how much attention it gets.

Never give up! Love God, and everyone else! Fear nothing on earth. Overcome evil with good!

Stand up. Stand with other pastors. Stand side by side. No one understands like pastors. Be strong. Stand for right. God is on your side.

[Rick Warren & Don Brock]

Fish Bowl Mentality?

Few people will deny the theory that a local church stops growing as the size of the church building reaches 80% capacity. The reason for this is purely human and not so spiritual. Most people simply will not tolerate feeling crowded in the pews. Using chairs instead of pews helps this problem somewhat, but eventually the congregants feel like their space is being invaded and soon become uncomfortable.

However, this is not the biggest reason for a churches lack of growth or the reaching of certain size and then growth stopping.
We use the analogy that a fish will only grow to a certain size in a small fish bowl but in a larger pond for instance, the fish can grow much larger. I'm not so sure however that God's church should so easily be compared to a fish. I suggest that the building is not necessarily the problem in most cases. In fact, we have all seen churches who were literally bursting out at the seams. In many parts of the world today, revival is happening at an unprecedented rate. Pews are packed and chairs are in the aisles. Some churches are utilizing 2-3 services per day to accommodate the crowds.

While it is true that most people don't like to be in a crowded atmosphere, it is also true that people will come when they are being fed. Jesus asked Peter, "Do you love me Peter?" Peter responded in the affirmative and when he did, our Lord told him to "Feed my sheep." He did not tell Peter to house them or get them plenty of exercise. He told him to "Feed Them".

People who are starving in the natural will walk for days to get even the smallest amount of food or water. Something within them drives them on as they struggle to find something to fill their belly. It is very sad that much of our world's population goes to bed hungry and starving every day.

We are also living in a day when people are starving spiritually. People are eating almost anything that comes along spiritually speaking. Truth is often ignored in the famished rush to simply fill the starving spiritual belly. People don't care what you are preaching, just so it answers some of the gnawing that is in their heart and soul. An alcoholic will receive the five (or is it six) step program and ignore the friend who is telling him about the delivering power of the Holy Ghost. Why is that? He's hungry. He wants what ever is going to fill his spiritual belly right now. Mentally he makes the decision to do what is simplest and easiest to fix his spiritual problem. That couple in the divorce court often doesn't care if you say God is 3 or God is 1. They are looking for the thing that is going to keep their family together.

What's the greatest church growth program you could have this year? Feed His sheep. People won't mind sitting closer to one another when your ministry is holding their family together. When the Holy Spirit is the element that is behind every song and every sermon, people will crowd in to see and hear what is going on.

Professionalism and perfection is not what feeds people. Choirs singing on key will impress some people but if you want to feed the hungry soul, get anointed. Now don't get so anointed that you have a Holy Ghost break down every time you get up to speak or sing, but allow the Holy Spirit to operate through your person and your emotions.

Preach not to impress. Preach to feed. Sing not to delight the audience. Sing to heal the wounded soul. When church leaders get together early this year to put the church calendar together, the question should be asked of every event planned, "Is this really feeding people?" or are we doing this out of tradition?

One of the reasons Small Group and Care Group ministries thrive in many churches is because they are all about feeding the individual. In the larger setting of the church the individual's needs often go unmet. Yet in the smaller setting, their needs are often paramount to the concern of the small group. In this setting the individual is often fed much more than in the congregational setting. This causes the congregation to grow as the congregation is made up of individuals.

Which churches will grow and prosper in this new year? Is it the churches with the largest or most beautiful buildings? Is it the churches with the most talent and charisma? Not in this generation. This generation is longing for the thing that will fill their hungry soul. They are willing to buy into whatever will keep their kids from overdosing or committing suicide. They're looking for the church that can show them the God who truly loves them in spite of their shortcomings and mistakes. They're hungry. Feed them!

[By James Smith]

Day 17 of a 21-Day Fast

The Lord is so good. I am so proud of all of you who are participating in this fast. The Lord loves His people. The Lord loves you.

Let me share briefly about a way God manifests His love in our lives that we often overlook. In the book of Hebrews we read, "My son, do not despise the chastening (disciplining) of the Lord, nor be discourage when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives." (Hebrews 12:5-6)

"Now no chastening (discipline) seems to be joyful for the present, but rather feels painful. Nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:11).

When God disciplines us, it is a manifestation of His love for us. In fact, if we are never disciplined by God then we are not His son. (See Hebrews 12:8) We must learn to see discipline in a positive light rather than a negative one. Discipline comes because God is training us to walk in our potential, in Christ. Discipline also comes for God to mature us so that we are able to handle His blessings correctly.

Some of you in the fasting community are asking and believing God for some awesome things. There are many of you who need to be trained and developed in order to be able to handle the blessing God wants to give you. If someone receives a brand new car but has never been trained how to drive it, then they are unable to actually enjoy the blessing. If they do drive it on the road before they are trained, great tragedy might take place in their life.

Some of you are standing in faith and believing God for such great things that He has to train and prepare you for before he can bless you with them. This discipline or training is a manifestation of the love of God in your life. He loves you so much that He is preparing you for the great things that He has for you.

During this time of fasting, when God deals with us like this, we must not be discouraged but rather understand that it is a necessary process in order for the "peaceable fruit of righteousness" to be reaped in your life.

- When it seems so painful "– HOLD ON!!
- When it hurts "– INVISION THE END RESULT!!!!!

Jesus endured the cross because of the "joy that was set before Him." (Hebrews 12:2) He can help you endure also!

Three principles that you need to have active in your life during this time of fasting are;
- confession,
- repentance, and
- faith.

These are elementary principles for Christians. (See Hebrews 6:12) All three of these principles were involved when we received Christ as our Lord and Savior and are to have a continual place in our walk with Him. Confession is simply acknowledging the truth before God. When we confess our sin before God, we are acknowledging that what we did was wrong. Confession is like the opposite of justifying what we have done. We are acknowledging it was wrong and that it was sin. Many people forget that repentance is a step further than just confessing and acknowledging what we did wrong. Repentance is the willingness, in our mind, to forsake sin and have godly sorrow for our sin. We don't want to live or act in a manner that displeases God, again. We are willing to give it up! We are willing to turn from it! Lastly, faith is placing trust and confidence in Christ that He will do what only He can do. Faith is looking toward Christ and His promises and that He will forgive us! He will cleanse us! He will deliver us! He will save us! He will set us free! He will live through us! He will be our victory over whatever we may face! He will change us! He will keep us from sin! He will protect us!

Let this process be in your life during the fast. Acknowledge that when God disciplines you that it is ultimately for your own good and that it is a manifestation of His love for you! Be encouraged! Be encouraged! Be encouraged! One day soon, you will be eating the peaceable fruit of righteousness that this discipline brings! Share some stories on the blog of what kind of blessings came into your life after you allowed God to discipline you! Encourage others during this time. Remember when you were in that same place. Comfort them with the comfort you now have!

Continue to run to Him!

[by Pastor Chad Craig]

Today's Prayer


When I remember the story of Joseph's life, I realize how you want so much more for me than I could ever dream of. I also see how you can turn what man means for evil into what you mean for good.

Please bring this to my mind whenever I'm feeling doubt and confusion; whenever I'm feeling oppressed and alone; whenever I'm feeling unjustly treated; whenever I think that I don't have something I need. I know that you are in control. I pray that I will always allow you to do your work and that I will not interfere in your plans for me. Please give me strength and fill me with your desires for me.

Thank you, loving Father.

In Jesus' name, amen.