Saturday, February 27, 2010

Peter Mead>Movie Illustrations: A Risky Business

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I have for many years used movie illustrations as a part of my pool of  illustrations from which I can draw.  I have usually (not always) had good luck with them. 

I recognize that there are two extremes: I have been in services where a movie clip is required somewhere in the service every Sunday.

The other extreme is John Piper who forbids them:

"I think the use of video and drama largely is a token of unbelief in the power of preaching. And I think that, to the degree that pastors begin to supplement their preaching with this entertaining spice to help people stay with them and be moved and get helped, it's going to backfire.... It's going to communicate that preaching is weak, preaching doesn't save, preaching doesn't hold, but entertainment does."  (here).

Somewhere in the middle, I believe is Peter Mead, over at his blog, Biblical Preaching.  Peter uses them and recommends using them, but only judiciously.  You can find his post here. You really should check it out, but in short, he gives four caveats to keep in mind when deciding whether or not to use a specific movie clip:

  1. Not everyone will have seen it.
  2. Not everything in it [the rest of the movie] may be appropriate.
  3. Will it take too much explaining
  4. Will it overwhelm the text and the message?

It has been interesting for me to sit under the preaching of Pastor Guy Gray for the past nine months.  One the one hand, Guy is about as anti-tech as it gets.  He almost using nothing visual in his sermons.  He has the scriptures put upon on the screen (white text on black background) as he reads them.  That is all.  But either because of that, or in spite of that or irrelevant to that, his preaching is very deep and powerful.  It has made me think through a number of things about visual supplements. 

Again, Peter's explanations of each of these points is really worth checking out.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Cross is All We Have

Quote of the Day:

image "The cross is and will forever be the sign of the church. This is the symbol that we have together, the symbol of what we have together, the symbol of what the churches have to give to the world. From the beginning to the end.”

    --Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, (pictured) in his installation as new general  secretary of the World Council of Churches. (Christian Post)

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Jim Wallis>Rediscovering Values

imageTonight I went to Powell’s Books here in Portland (actually it at was the Beaverton store) to hear Jim Wallis talk about his new book “Rediscovering Values on Wall Street, Main Street and Your Street (A Moral Compass for the New Economy)”

I have heard Wallis before and knew that I was in for a treat.  I first heard him at an intimate pastors gathering at a bookstore in Wichita, KS and then heard him again in May 2007 at the Festival of Homiletics (the same event that launched this blog).

Wallis is always riveting, challenging..and funny.    He is, of course, the founder and president of Sojourners community in Washington D.C.: an organization that also publishes Sojourners magazine.  

Wallis is known for his hard hitting critiques of both right wing and left wing politics and his biblical calls for a return of the church as a voice for social justice and the poor.   He describes himself as an evangelical Christian who is pro-life in all the dimensions that that entails: against abortion, but also FOR justice and mercy.

He dropped names like Rona Barrett, but it is obvious that he is who world leaders look to when they want a Christian perspective on values.  He spoke at both of the past two World Economic Forums in Davos, Switzerland and teaches occasionally at Harvard.  This past Monday night before speaking at Portland, he had been featured at Stanford Univ.

His book is really a reaction to the economic crisis we have been in for the past 2-3 years.  He spoke of the roots of the crisis and its lasting legacy.  The “tagline” for his presentation (and for his book) is:

While most of us wonder, "When will the financial crisis be over?," Wallis will present the more challenging question, "How will the financial crisis change us?"

We are really at a point where America chooses whether we will return to the pre-1980 values of economics, morality and the concept of common good or continue to allow the rich to get richer and the poor to get poorer.  Even more so, will we return to the concepts that our parents and grandparents learned from the Great Depression?

(One side note: I sat on the second row and there were a couple of older ladies sitting right in front of me who were almost comical.  They were overly dramatic in their reaction to every statistic that Wallis presented or suggestion he made. They gasped loudly at his stats and clucked their tongues like old schoolmarms and used stage whispers to say such things as “That’s terrible!” or “How can they?”  Although from my conversations with them beforehand I know that they were big Wallis supporters, they almost came across as mocking him by their exaggerated reactions to his every statement.  It takes all kinds to make a world….)

Some misc. notes:

  • CEO’s need to (and some are beginning to) recognize that they have a responsibility not just to shareholders, but rather to STAKEholders (including shareholders, workers, consumers, the environment and future generations).
  • Wallis has said for several years that a budget is a moral document (whether it be a family budget, a state’s budget, or a nations budget) but in recent years as a father (he has two sons, aged 11 & 6) he has come to realize that a calendar is a moral document as well.  Both express what is and what isn’t important to us, who is and who isn’t important to us and what we really think about the things we talk about.
  • Thirty years ago high level executives were (on average) paid 30x what the average worker in their company was paid.  Today that average is 450:1. 
  • Even though the “poverty line” in America is outdated & is unrealistically low, still 1 out of every 4 children in America lives under the “poverty line.”
  • The poor in our world are the “canaries in the mine” for our world economy.  When the poor begin to become even more profoundly affected it spells deep trouble for the rest of us.
  • Majorities never change anything. Change only comes when you have a critical mass among the minority.  Many people say they voted for change in the 2008 election, but change hasn’t happened because there has not been a critical mass among the minority.
  • Both Obama and his supports misunderstood the forces against significant change present in Washington D.C.  [You may see that as a bad thing or a good thing depending on your views of Obama, but it still is never good for the country over the long haul.-cph]. 
  • Wallis spoke of bonuses paid to executives of investment companies: While Wallis spoke to fast with figures, he said that investment companies paid something like $50 billion in bonuses to their executives last year. (This after the taxpayers bailed them out for their misdeeds).  That seemed a bit high to me and so I did a quick Google search. I never found that specific number, but found that investment companies located in New York City alone paid $20 billion in bonuses to their executives last year.  Wallis went through a long list of how that money could be used to make our country a stronger and more healthy place if it were applied to such things as health care, helping homeowners with mortgages in foreclosure (no foreclosures through the end of 2012), the fact that just a PORTION of that could pay off the debt of all of the individual states in the nation combined.  image
  • 45% of Harvard students said that they wanted to be investment  bankers. 
  • As Paul Harvey used to say: “Wash your mind out with this”: At the same time a teaching organization that trains teachers to go into the inner city and teach in the worst of the worst schools (I think it is Teach for America) has so many people applying that their application criteria are more strict than those to be admitted to Harvard University. 

In all of this, Wallis had a consistent Christian testimony.  He spoke several times of his Christian faith…not in a way that belittled or minimized the faith (or non-faith) of others, but he made it clear that his commitment to these things arose out of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Skimming for the Vision?

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As I continue to read on coaching and the opportunities it provides, I found an intriguing concept in a book entitled, “Coaching for Christian Leaders” by Linda J. Miller and Chad W. Hall (Chalice Press, 2007).

I have mentioned here before that coming up with “the big vision” was always hard for me. For me, it reeked too much of egoism and presumption.  And yet, I recognized that a vision for a body of believers has an important place. Additionally, people had the expectation that there needed to be a vision for a church.  “What is the vision for your (or “our”) church?” was a phrase that I heard over and over through the years.  In my last church there was a continuing battle over who was to provide that vision:  the pastor or the board of elders.  But the presumption either way was that the official leadership of the church was to be the source of that vision.

Miller and Hall introduce an intriguing concept: “skimming for vision”.  Let me quote a couple of paragraphs and then comment on it:

Where is vision and how does the leader get it?  Three common responses are that God gives vision to the leader, or that the leader “goes to the mountain” and sees the vision in isolation, or that the vision comes to the leader in a dream.  Certainly each of these options is a possibility.  But the vision caster who takes a coach approach has one more option: the vision may reside with the followers.

Ministry leaders, especially those in faith families who value the priesthood of all believers, possess a theological impetus for believing that vision resides with the community.  In such cases, the vision caster is charged, not with coming up with the vision in solitude, but with discerning the vision from amidst the community.  This could be termed “skimming for the vision.”  The picture is that various members of a church (or any organization) have a piece of the vision. Through experience, intellect, relationships and capability, each of these members carries God-given hopes, dreams, concerns, and suggestions for the church.  The vision caster who dialogues with members uses the skills of a coach to draw out the vision from each person.  The vision caster asks question, listens intently, suspends judgment, and even encourages forward movement in an effort to support the “persons being coached” while simultaneously picking up one more aspect of God’s intent for the church. 

Skimming for the vision is not an abdication of the leaders duty to discern vision.  This is not “vision by committee.”  Instead, skimming for the vision is a way to discern.  The leader must have eyes to see and ears to hear the vision as it is revealed piece by piece.  Talk about active listening!  The leader must distinguish what is and what is not a piece of the vision, hold onto each piece as it is revealed, prayerfully recognize patterns and themes that emerge, and then put these pieces together with God’s help.  Skimming for the vision is not a shortcut to discerning the vision for a church, but it is a way of tapping into the genius of the community.  A leader’s decision  to take an initiative or recommend an action comes from that leader’s intuition, experience, and intelligence.  A coach approach enables the leader to tap into the intuition, experience and intelligence of many people.”  (p. 88)

I am not ready to buy into the concept that this is the only way in which vision should be determined for a congregation.  Even Miller and Hall don’t state it that way.  But they add it as one more way in which God may bring his vision to a congregation. 

I think that in my church in Garden City, KS that concept really worked well.  We had “Listening Posts” on two difference occasions where the people shared their hopes and dreams for that church and what they believed that God was saying to our church.  And then a very small group (with me at the helm) sorted through that and came up with a plan of action that we believe came from God. It wasn’t perfectly executed, but I still believe it came from God and he richly blessed it. And I could buy into it because I knew it wasn’t me imposing my hopes and dreams onto a congregation.

Now, in the church I served after that, the same concept didn’t work and that was partly due to the emphasis of the local elder board on doing everything by committee and de-emphasizing the role of the senior pastor.  That, combined with lobbying by a very vocal group pushing their one agenda really destroyed the process. 

As Miller and Hall say, this is not an easier way to do vision creation.  It is (IMHO) much harder.  It takes wisdom and strength on the part of the leader to set boundaries and to be able to see patterns.  It also takes a group of people who are willing, even after their hopes and dreams are shared, are willing for those not to be adopted.

But I think the concept has enough merit to consider.  What do you think?  Have you heard of this concept elsewhere.  What was your reaction to it then?  Share you feedback with all of us….

Monday, February 22, 2010

Expository Thoughts: How to Recognize Symbolic Language

Matt Waymeyer has a basic, but helpful reminder on how to differentiate between literal language and figurative language in the Bible. Basic Bible interpretation, but something that seems to trip up a number of people.  Find it here.

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

A Quick Schedule/Time Management Tip

image Maybe what I am about to say is known to every minister on the planet except me.  But it adversely affected my last ministry and continues to catch my attention.

We as ministers want to be of assistance to people and we want to be available/accessible.  Both of those are good traits as long as we have strong boundaries.

I haven’t always had good boundaries but I am continuing to define and strengthen them.  My online university teaching as well as trying to get my coaching business up and running has highlighted the need for this trait. 

Part of issue is in the fact that ministers don’t punch a clock and much of what they do is not time-determined.  For example.  I need to go to the hospital to visit.  It doesn’t really matter (unless the hospital has policies or something is going on with the patient) if I go at 11:00 a.m. or at 3:30 p.m.  Likewise, we have administrative tasks that must be done.  But whether I do them this morning or this afternoon (or tomorrow) is not (usually) of vital consequence.  

I always told people: “I have a lot to do, but most of it is flexible in terms of when it has to be done.”

And so, when someone would call wanting to schedule a meeting or a counseling appointment, or whatever, I would be more than willing to bend MY schedule around theirs.  And if I already had two meetings today and someone wanted to meet today, I kind of made a face but went ahead and scheduled them today. 

The sermon prep or the administrative task, or the pastoral phone call could wait until tomorrow.  Or the next day.

“I have a lot to do, but most of it is flexible in terms of when it has to be done.” meant that the things that were high priorities usually got pushed into whatever time (if any) remained.

And that lack of boundaries resulted in two consequences:

  1. A lack of productivity on my part; or at least peak productivity, because when I did those things they were usually at times when I was tired or rushed;
  2. Heightened stress, because I knew those things still needed to be but were not getting done.

So who paid the price? I and my family did. I did in terms of my physical and mental health and my family did in terms of quality time with me.

In the past year I have been teaching for four different online universities, and at times up to seven different classes at the same time.  And I really enjoy it—most of the time.  HOWEVER…each of the schools has very strict rules about what has to be done on which days.  There are time limits on returning e-mails and minimum number of discussion posts (and requirements of what has to be IN the discussion posts) for each day.  There are guidelines about how long I have to grade and return students’ assignments.  On an average, my online classes take me, oh 6 hours per day.  (My educated guesstimate).

But I am still in community groups.  I am seeking to network. I am seeking to make appointments with ministers about coaching. I am still taking my coaching training. I have practicum coaching sessions that have to be done each week. Plus I am learning an entirely new skill set in terms of setting up and running a business.  Our financial picture demands that I get my coaching business up and make it profitable ASAP.  I am presenting two workshops this weekend for a group of churches in southern Oregon. I am in a Men’s Bible Study and meeting with another guy about starting a second one.

I have friends who want to have coffee (and with whom I want to have coffee). And Jim Wallis is coming to town this week and I really would like to go hear him speak at Powells City of Books.

What does that mean? It means that I HAVE to say no when people want to meet quickly.  Twice this week guys have called & wanted to have coffee.  They were not high priority meetings, but would be good to do and potentially have some business advantages.  In the old days I would have let them set a time & worked my schedule around it.  In both cases, I asked for a couple of times they could meet in two weeks.  I didn’t say “No, I won’t meet.”  But I did fit it into MY schedule.  And I am also aware that those weeks I may have to do the same with others who call. 

I simply CANNOT fill my schedule with meetings that other people want to have on their schedules.  Emergencies happen.  But a small percentage of the calls I got as a minister were the absolute “drop everything and run” type of emergencies.

God has given us all the same amount of time.  Some of us just do more with it than others do.  I want, and need, to do more with it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

“Ministry is Not for Sissies”

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A couple of weeks ago the Christian Standard magazine had what was  (to me) a helpful article entitled, “Enduring a Painful Ministry.” It was written by Brian Giese, a retired minister after 45 years of active ministry.

He notes:

“More than fifty percent of church leaders who spend most of their adult lives in ministry will have at least one painful “season” in serving God’s people.  So, for most of us, the question is not, “Will I get hit?” but, “Will I bounce back?”

He makes makes many helpful suggestions like Maintain an Upbeat Attitude, Get Some Support (I, of course, would suggest coaching!), Continue to Serve, and Encourage Others. 

But the one section that I thought was most helpful to me was his suggestion to Analyze the Cause.  He says:

  1. The needs of the ministry and your gifts do not match up well.
  2. The goals and/or personalities of other leaders clash with yours, and these conflicts cannot be resolved.
  3. You and/or your family’s personal needs are not being met, and your resources are running dry (emotionally, financially, etc.).
  4. Due to a moral lapse and/or severe marriage or family problems, you lose your credibility.
  5. Health problems (physical or mental) prevent you from fulfilling ministry demands.
  6. You and/or the congregation have unrealistic expectations.
  7. Because of poor judgment or other leadership mistakes, you alienate too many people to be effective.
  8. You experience burnout (this is listed last but it certainly is not least). Many scenarios in ministry can lead to emotional/spiritual depletion.

When facing adversity, we should look first for some opportunity in the problem. If that isn’t possible, we can at least try to learn from the experience.

I won’t really editorialize on the article, other than to say that it struck close to home and I would suggest all ministers, young AND experienced listen to Bro. Giese’s words. 

He ends the article with the words of Wayne Smith, the long-time minister of the Southland Christian Church in Lexington, KY in a message entitled “Playing Hurt”:

Wayne Smith shared some sports anecdotes about famous athletes who played while hurt. Then Wayne spoke about some of God’s servants in the Bible who labored for the Lord in spite of apathy and rejection. Wayne concluded by saying, “Ministry is not for sissies. If you don’t learn to play hurt in the church, you won’t play at all.”

Again, you can find the article here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Pastors and Porn

image This afternoon my coaching instructor sent an e-mail newsletter from Gary Collins [author of Christian Counseling:A Comprehensive Guide (2007) and Christian Coaching (2009)] on pornography. (Find it here.)

I was reminded of various statistic regarding pastors and porn that have come across my desk:

  • In March of 2002 Rick Warren’s (author of the Purpose Driven life) Pastors.com website conducted a survey on porn use of 1351 pastors: 54% of the pastors had viewed Internet pornography within the last year, and 30% of these had visited within the last 30 days.
  • In his book, "Men's Secret Wars", Patrick Means reveals a confidential survey of evangelical pastors and church lay leaders. Sixty-four percent of these Christian leaders confirm that they are struggling with sexual addiction or sexual compulsion including, but not limited to use of pornography, compulsive masturbation, or other secret sexual activity. http://www.blazinggrace.org/cms/bg/pornstats
  • 98% [or pastors surveyed] had been exposed to porn; 43% intentionally accessed a sexually explicit website.  National Coalition survey of pastors.  Seattle.  April 2000.
  • One in seven calls to Focus on the Family’s Pastoral Care Hotline is related to internet pornography. http://www.worldmag.com/articles/10555
  • Almost forty percent [of pastors] polled said they have had an extra-marital affair since beginning their ministry.  (“Death by Ministry”, Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church in Seattle).

I asked Carl (my certification instructor) if he thought it would be helpful to develop a workshop on how to coach men (and women) addicted to porn.  But even more than that for me is the need to DO good coaching for pastors in this area.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

An Interesting Development in Pastor-Board Relations—”If You Ain’t Willing to Back it Up…”

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In today’s Oregonian there was a story that at least bears noting.  It told the story of a  pastor (Tim Tubra) who had been fired from the Vernonia (OR) Foursquare Church back in 2003.  The board of that church wrote a letter to the congregation stating that he was a thief. 

Tubra sued, claiming defamation of character and recently, the Oregon Court of Appeals upheld the claim.  (Tubra had also won at the lower level before a jury, but the judge at that level threw the case out after the jury ruled in favor of the pastor).  The defendants [the church] have already said that they will take the case to the Oregon Supreme Court.

OK, so a law-case was in the news?  So what? And other than the fact that it involves a church and a pastor, why are you taking time to write about it in your blog, Cal?

Here’s why.

Calling the ruling “game changing”, the Oregonian stated:

"The First Amendment protects a church's right to speak to church members about a church pastor's conduct without interference by secular courts," [John T. Kaempf, the defense attorney] said in an e-mail. "Until the Oregon Court of Appeals' decision, this was the holding of every court in the country addressing similar facts."


Professor Steven K. Green from Willamette University's College of Law  said historically there has been a "zone of protection" surrounding what happens in a church, but that this perception is changing dramatically.


"The decision puts Oregon on the vanguard in this area," said Green, who is the director of the Center for Religion, Law & Democracy at the school. "Traditionally, employment disputes internal to a church have been off limits to courts because of the difficulty of determining what is theological."

President and founder of conservative legal organization The Rutherford Institute,  attorney John W. Whitehead,  said the key to a court's involvement in church matters is whether the issue at hand is ecclesiastical in nature. He said he had not seen a case quite like this.

"They're not above the law, and they shouldn't argue that they are," said Whitehead, whose group deals in large part with religious issues.

The precipitating event (at least as explained in the Oregonian) is that when Tubra was hired, the church did not have enough money to pay him a living wage.  Therefore, the senior minister and another member of the board promised to pay Tubra $1,100 extra per month for the first three months in addition to his regular salary of $1,500.   At the end of the four months employment at the church, Tubra withdrew $3,000 from the church’s bank account, claiming that he was taking the money that had been donated for this special extra salary or gift.

(As an aside, let me say, I have no idea how a minister, let alone an associate minister would even have the ability to withdraw $3,000 from the church’s bank account.  It would appear that the proper checks & balances were not in place that would preclude such a thing from happening.)

The response of the senior minister and the board member was to fire Tubra and then read a letter to the congregation saying he had been fired because he was a thief. ("there has been, to some extent, a financial misappropriation by former pastor [Tubra].")

No charges were ever filed against Tubra.

Upon discovering the contents of the letter that had been read to the congregation, Tubra asked for a copy of the letter.  In an e-mail exchange with a secretary who was asked to provide the letter, one official of the church told said that Tubra "has already demonstrated a willingness to lie and steal."

After being unable to find another place of ministry two years later, (even with 20 years of church ministry experience) Tubra filed a defamation suit against the International Church of the Foursquare in Sept 2005 and was awarded $355,000 by the jury.

The crux comes down (in my view) is whether or not church boards are able to act however they want regardless of the law?  Is the board truly free to say whatever they want to their congregation, with no evidence to back it up except their word? No one has argued (to my knowledge) that Tubra was not promised the money.  And if he withdrew it after already having been paid the money, then the church should have filed charges.

(In their defense, the Oregonian reports “The attorney for the Foursquare Church said no charges were filed against the former pastor because officials wanted to resolve the issue within the church community.”)  Two years seems like more than adequate time, however, to show that one is indeed trying “to resolve the issue within the church community.”

It took the Oregon Court of Appeals almost 18 months after hearing the case to issue a judgment.  They seem to recognize the precedent setting nature of such a judgment and the First Amendment issues involved:

  • How far can the government step into the internal affairs of a congregation by stating that an issue is legal & not ecclesiastical in nature?
  • How far can church leaders & church members go beyond the bounds of legal and moral actions and still claim that they are immune from legal ramifications.

Most of us appreciate the boundaries that the First Amendment established. (Although we may not appreciate the abuses that have been visited on the church by her opponents in the name of the First Amendment).

What makes it difficult (IMHO) is when church members and leaders do not behave by the own morality that they preach and therefore the state is obligated to step in.  It besmirches the name of Christ and complicates life for the rest of us.

You can find the Oreogonian’s story on the ruling here.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Pure Heart Before God

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It is an inward struggle for most preachers to stand before a congregation and  declare the Word of the Lord, while at the same time recognizing how unworthy they (we) are.  Preaching with integrity requires us to be “confessed up.”

One person (who was a whole lot better at giving judgment and shame rather than giving grace) stated, “If God put on a screen behind you all the sins you committed this last week for people to see as you preached, you would be ashamed and unable to speak.”  Which is true, except for God’s grace and God’s command to “Preach the Word.”

For many years I had a sheet in my sermon prep notebook simply labeled: “Confess & Repent of Unconfessed Sin in Your Life”.  The list has no author listed on the paper, but the list looks like came from the late 1980’s (It is printed on my first computer printer: an old daisy-wheel. 

If anyone knows the author, I will gladly credit it (Dick Eastman, perhaps?), but I offer it up not only for preachers, but for all believers.  We all need to live lives that are “confessed up” whether or not we preach from a pulpit.  We preach with our lives.

God requires a clean heart.  Sin short-circuits your relationship with God: “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear.”  (Ps. 66:18)

Some hindrances of prayer to consider:

  1. Selfishness and wrong motives (James 4:2-3)
  2. Lack of compassion (Prov 21:13)L
  3. Lack of domestic harmony or peace with mate, children, relatives (I Peter 3:7)
  4. Pride (Job 35:12-13)
  5. Disobedience (I John 3:22)
  6. Lack of faith (James 5:15)
  7. Unforgiving spirit (Matt 5:23-25)
  8. Failure to ask God according to God’s will (I John 5:14)
  9. Failure to know God’s Word and abide in Christ (John 15:7)
  10. Hypocrisy (Matt 6:;5)
  11. Wrong attitudes e.g. impure thoughts, jealousy, guilt, worry, critical spirit, frustration,  aimlessness, etc.
  12. Loss of first love (Rev. 2:4)
  13. Lukewarmness (Rev. 3:16)
  14. Critical attitude (Matt 7:1-5)
  15. Hardhearteness/insensitivity (Matt 7:1-5)

Confess all sin God brings to your mind:

  1. Remember that God promises to cleanse and forgive you” “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleans us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)
  2. Thank him that He has forgiven all of your sins as He said he would.  The very act of saying “Thank you” demonstrates faith. Faith pleases God.
  3. Don’t let the memory of unconfessed sin trouble you again.  You are clean in the sight of God!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Top 100 Church Blogs | churchrelevance.com

Top 100 Church Blogs | churchrelevance.com

Kent Schaffer on his blog site "ChurchRelevance.com" has put together a list of "the world's top church blogs." The list is a little over a year old, but I still believe it is a helpful one to check out.

Whether that claim is objectively verifiable or not may leave some room for argument (it obviously isn't complete, because mine is not on it!!) ;-) but there are links to some fabulous blogs here. If you are new to the world of blog reading (and even if you're not) there is much here to keep you reading until Jesus comes back.

The Top Five are
Desire God
Between Two Worlds (No longer called that or a free-standing blog, it is now a department of "The Gospel Coalition" blog) You can find Justin's old stuff here.
Tim Challies
Stuff Christians Like
The Resurgence

Maybe Solomon should have said, "Be admonished: of the making of many blog posts there is no end." (cf Eccl. 12:12).

Peter Mead>>Planning a Selective Series

image One of my favorite preaching bloggers, Peter Mead blogged last week about series preaching

What criteria can you use when planning a series in a longer book that you don’t want to last for years?

Excerpts:

Here are some pointers:

Foundation – Know the message, flow and structure of the book.   Without this you are likely to end up with a plan that doesn’t represent the book, or you’ll start into the series and end up preaching every passage .

1, Select key moments in the book. In every book there are key moments of transition or anchor points for the flow of the book. 

2. Select key examples in the book. There are some passages that may not be at a transition point, but are just very typical of the style and message of the book.

3. Select an example in a sequence, but show the whole progression. Often a book will string together a series of stories making a similar point, such as in Mark 2-3.  …This covers a lot of ground, but can make quite an impression as people feel the weight of the authority demonstrated by the whole sequence.

4. Select passages you want to preach. As long as you have the other three types of message included, there is nothing wrong with selecting based on personal motivation – the fruit will probably show in your preaching if you are motivated!

5. Keep the big idea of the book clear throughout. Consistently, even if subtly, reinforce the big idea of the whole book to cohere the series.

Peter uses preaching from Mark as examples in many of the points in his original article.

Find the full article here.

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