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GUEST POST: What Is a Biblical Worldview? Definitions, Dilemmas, and Dangers
 
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What Is a Biblical Worldview? Definitions, Dilemmas, and Dangers

Photo of Bobby HarringtonBobby Harrington | BioPhoto of Daniel McCoyDaniel McCoy | Bio

What is a biblical worldview, and does it matter?

A biblical worldview is a view of the world which seeks to answer life’s biggest questions from the teachings of the Bible. Many people see having a biblical worldview as unimportant. This includes non-Christians who see the world from a different worldview, as well as Christians who don’t want to apply what the Bible says to cultural issues or everyday life. Yet if the teachings of the Bible are true, then we do well to hold them up like a lantern to the rest of reality in order to illuminate the answers to life’s biggest questions.

Let’s explore what worldviews are, as well as the dilemmas and dangers we face when we study them.

What is a worldview?

At its simplest, a worldview is a person’s view of the world. It’s your framework for understanding reality and answering the big questions about it. It’s basically a roadmap for navigating reality. Here are a couple of metaphors that can be helpful: Your worldview is like a pair of glasses; it determines how you view the world. Your worldview is also like a jigsaw puzzle box top; it gives you the big picture so that you can make sense of the individual pieces and arrange them in place.


“Your worldview gives you the big picture so that you can make sense of the individual pieces and arrange them in place.”


There is overlap between your worldview and the grand story you believe about reality. Steve Wilkens and Mark L. Sanford, authors of Hidden Worldviews, describe worldviews as “cultural stories” we believe about reality. For example, if your worldview is “scientific materialism” (one of the eight worldviews described in their book), the story you believe about reality is that the physical world encompasses all reality—it is all that was, is, and will be.

What kinds of questions does your worldview help you answer?

Your view of the world helps you make sense of life’s biggest questions. Like what? Here are five common big-picture questions people have:

  • Origin: Where do I come from?
  • Identity: Who am I?
  • Meaning: What is my purpose?
  • Morality: How should I live?
  • Destiny: What happens when I die?

Christian philosopher Dallas Willard boils it down to three main worldview questions:

  • What counts as knowledge of reality?
  • Who is really well-off?
  • Who is a “really good” person?

“What counts as knowledge of reality? Who is really well-off? Who is a ‘really good’ person?”


James Sire, author of the landmark book on worldviews called The Universe Next Door, lists eight main questions:

  • What is prime reality—the really real?
  • What is the nature of the world around us?
  • What is a human being?
  • What happens to a person at death?
  • Why is it possible to know anything at all?
  • How do we know what is right and wrong?
  • What is the meaning of human history?
  • What personal, life-orienting core commitments are consistent with this worldview?

These are the kinds of questions thinking people have contemplated throughout history, and our answers to these big-picture questions shape how we live everyday life.

Why is it helpful to understand worldviews?

Thinking about worldviews can help you grow in empathy and pursue truth.

Empathy. “Worldview” may sound a bit philosophical and academic, but it’s actually one of the most important concepts you can understand if you want to grow in empathy. It might make zero sense to a Christian why another person may be uninterested in hearing her talk about the truth of the gospel (they explain that they’re happy she has her truth, but they have their own truth). It can help you be a lot more empathetic if you can understand the worldview of postmodernism they have embraced. When you take the time to consider the worldview another person is coming from, it can help you to not dismiss the person as crazy.


“When you take the time to consider the worldview another person is coming from, it can help you to not dismiss the person as crazy.”


Truth. We should always be seeking to form our lives around truth—so that 1) our beliefs align with reality and 2) our lifestyle aligns with our beliefs. Keeping the concept of worldviews in mind can help in both ways. For example, as you seek for your beliefs to align with reality, it is good to consider the big-picture questions people have asked and answered throughout history—and to line up the answers to explore which one best corresponds with reality. And as you seek to align your lifestyle with your beliefs, it is helpful to ask if you are living consistently with the beliefs you say you believe? If you’re a Christian, do you really trust God when you’re tempted to be anxious? Do you really worship God when you’re tempted to idolize fame or financial security?

It’s also worth mentioning that, if you’re a Christian, one of your core convictions will be that other people need Jesus too, for part of the core teaching of Scripture is that human beings are eternally lost without repentant faith in Jesus. Learning other people’s worldviews is key to knowing your audience when you get the opportunity to tell them about Jesus. The apostle Paul was a Jewish Bible scholar, and yet he knew the worldview of Stoicism well enough to where, when he was asked to address the Areopagus in Athens, he preached the gospel in a way that made sense to the Stoic mindset—and even quoted from Stoic poets (Acts 17:22-31).

What is a biblical worldview?

We want to be a little cautious here before delving too deeply too quickly. By focusing too much on a biblical worldview, we can make it seem like our faith is primarily a set of answers to questions. But the Bible wasn’t written first and foremost to be an answer book. It’s more of a storyline for humanity. This is why Wilkens and Sanford’s insight in Hidden Worldviews is especially helpful: Worldviews may help us answer life’s biggest questions, but worldviews are perhaps best described as “cultural stories” we believe about reality. In this light, the gospel of Jesus (his incarnation, death, resurrection, enthronement, return, etc.) is far more foundational than “the biblical worldview.” It’s insofar as we gather our answers to life’s biggest questions from the Christian gospel that we can say that we have a biblical worldview.


“The Bible wasn’t written first and foremost to be an answer book. It’s more of a storyline for humanity.”


So, onto our central question here. What is a biblical worldview? A biblical worldview is a view of the world which seeks to answer life’s biggest questions from the teachings of the Bible, with a special focus on the gospel storyline. As such, here is a sampling of basic biblical answers to some of these big-picture questions:

  1. Where do we come from? We are created by God.
  2. Who are we? We are the creatures God made in his image.
  3. What is our purpose? God created us to know and follow him as we fill the earth and reign over it as the managers he has put in charge.
  4. What is our core problem? We fall short of God’s glory because we pridefully resist his authority as a threat to our well-being.
  5. How is this problem solved? We turn from our self-centered ways and trust and give our allegiance to Jesus the Messiah as our Savior, Lord, and King, and he forgives us, fills us with his Spirit, and restores us to our original image.
  6. How should we live? We should live according to the way of Jesus the Messiah, which can be summarized as loving God and loving people as he teaches.
  7. What happens when we die? We are either with the Lord or apart from him for eternity, based on our relationship with Jesus through faith in him and his gospel.

     


“There are massive differences between the different worldviews.”


There are other big questions to answer, and some Christians may offer slight variations in the answers they give. But looking at different big-picture worldview answers is instructive: If we were to put together a chart with these questions as columns and include a different worldview per each row, it would quickly become clear that there are massive differences between the different worldviews. It would also clearly show that having a biblical worldview is far from a default perspective, even in a Christian-influenced part of the world like the Western world.

What other worldviews exist besides a biblical worldview?

If “worldview” is simply a person’s view of the world, then it would make sense that there are as many worldviews as there are people on the planet. Yet since worldviews typically zoom out to life’s biggest questions, we can categorize most people’s worldviews into a few basic ones.

There are helpful books which list some of the world’s most prominent worldviews. For example, the philosophy-oriented Worlds Apart: A Handbook on Worldview (Wipf and Stock, 2003) by Norman Geisler and William Watkin lists seven basic worldviews:

  • Theism: There is one God who created all.
  • Atheism: There is no God.
  • Pantheism: Everything is God.
  • Panentheism: God is in an eternal process of growing and becoming.
  • Deism: God created the world but doesn’t intervene in it.
  • Finite Godism: The God that exists is limited in some way (e.g., is not all-powerful)
  • Polytheism: There are many gods.

“James Sire walks through worldviews in a somewhat chronological order, based on the succession of dominant worldviews in the Western world.”


In Universe Next Door (IVP Academic, 2020), James Sire walks through worldviews in a somewhat chronological order, based on the succession of dominant worldviews in the Western world (adding a final one, Islamic theism, which is not yet dominant but is nonetheless growing in popularity):

  • Christian Theism: The triune God created all and restores us by grace through faith in Jesus.
  • Deism: God created the world but doesn’t intervene in it.
  • Naturalism: All that exists is the physical world.
  • Nihilism: There is no ultimate truth, meaning, or right and wrong.
  • Existentialism: We create our own truth and meaning.
  • Eastern Pantheistic Monism: We merge with the divine through meditative techniques learned from Eastern religions.
  • New Age-Spirituality: We combine elements of Eastern Pantheistic Monism (e.g., reincarnation and Eastern meditation) with popular psychology and occultic practices.
  • Postmodernism: The concept of absolute truth is a human construct used to get power, so we need to prioritize the stories of our own tribes and emphasize our own truth.
  • Islamic Theism: The singular God Allah created all and saves those who submit to him in obedience.

In Hidden Worldviews: Eight Cultural Stories That Shape Our Lives (InterVarsity, 2009), Steve Wilkens and Mark L. Sanford list eight worldviews which are often less obvious than a person’s religious affiliation, but which have massive influence under the surface in Western hearts and minds. In addition to the already-described worldviews of New Age, Postmodern Tribalism, and Scientific Naturalism, they discuss the following:

  • Individualism: My interests are the center of reality.
  • Consumerism: My worth is tied to what I own.
  • Nationalism: My nation is more above all.
  • Moral relativismMy truth is more important than the truth.
  • Salvation by Therapy: My deepest problems can be solved by psychology.

“Many people’s worldviews are syncretistic combinations of common worldviews.”


No list is perfect. For example, the highly influential religion of Buddhism doesn’t neatly fit into any of the worldviews listed above. As researchers are finding (see below), many people’s worldviews are syncretistic combinations of common worldviews. As an example, longtime researcher George Barna suggests that “America’s most popular worldview” is basically a combination of deism and “salvation by therapy” called “moralistic therapeutic deism” (a term coined by sociologist Christian Smith). Although lists like these are imperfect and can never really pinpoint a particular person exactly, such categorizations do help us in exploring common worldview answers to life’s biggest questions.

Does it matter whether you have a biblical worldview?

If the teachings of the Bible are true, then it absolutely matters whether you allow those beliefs to affect the way you view the world. To use common metaphors, if you don’t look at reality through the true worldview, then it’s like trying to make sense of thousands of individual puzzle pieces without the box top. Or it’s like trying to make sense of the outside world with a pair of glasses that distorts rather than bringing clarity.

George Barna released unfortunate news regarding how syncretistic the worldviews of Christians in America have recently become, whether parents or pastors. Most shocking of all is how, based on Barna’s 54-question survey taken by 1,000 Christian pastors (including senior, associate, teaching, children’s/youth, and executive pastors), “just slightly more than a third (37%) have a biblical worldview and the majority—62%—possess a hybrid worldview known as Syncretism.

Think about the implications. These are pastors and parents who call themselves Christian but have a worldview only partially informed by Scripture. With cultural winds blowing Western culture ever-farther from biblical Christianity, it will take an act of God for the people under these pastors’ and parents’ shepherding to develop a biblical view of the world.


“These are pastors and parents who call themselves Christian but have a worldview only partially informed by Scripture.”


If we’re looking at the world biblically, we will acknowledge a war going on in the realm of worldviews and how people think. Here’s how the apostle Paul articulated the war:

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. (2 Cor. 10:3-5)

Church leaders are to equip and train people to “take captive every thought to make them obedient to Christ.” How we think and what we believe really matter. Statistics like those from Barna’s surveys (as well as perhaps stories in your own church and family) tell us that there are many, many spiritual shepherds who, far from demolishing arguments that contradict Christ, are welcoming wolves as guest lecturers. Instead of thinking according to the ways of Jesus, too many Christians are now thinking according to the ways of the world around us.


“…spiritual shepherds who, far from demolishing arguments that contradict Christ, are welcoming wolves as guest lecturers…”


What major dilemma unfolds as we study worldviews?

There are some people who prefer not to get involved in worldview disputes. They are happy to claim Switzerland-style neutrality when it comes to questions of ultimate truth. A problem that emerges for these people is that, when it comes to worldviews, everybody has one.

Let us say that again: everyone has a worldview.

Even the position that says, “Everybody’s truth is equally valid” is itself a worldview (“relativism”), which, if true, would mean that all contradicting worldviews are false. So, there’s no neutrality in the collision of worldviews. Everyone will have answers to big-picture questions which will slope their view toward or away from truth.


“Everyone will have answers to big-picture questions which will slope their view toward or away from truth.”


Unfortunately for people who prefer not to get involved in such debates, it’s actually more spiritual war than intellectual debate (again, see 2 Cor. 10:3-5 above), and each person is already on one side or another.

What are the potential dangers of teaching a biblical worldview?

Although it is a necessary thing to teach the biblical worldview to Christians (which both of us have done and continue to do), there are some potential pitfalls to be aware of. For one thing, if we teach biblical answers to only a narrow list of worldview questions, we’ll have a disproportionate, almost checklist style of faith formation. It’s possible to think, okay, if we just get them to believe Christianly in this list of areas, then it’ll be a foolproof path to lifelong faithfulness. Many Christian traditions have taken this narrow approach. But faith formation is more all-of-life, a matter of holistic, relational discipleship—of heart, soul, mind, and strength—not of checking answers on a test of worldview questions.

Another potential danger: It’s easy to consider a person’s worldview (let’s say the person is a Muslim) and assume you know most of the relevant spiritual information about the person. Is it helpful to know about the official answers given to life’s biggest questions according to the person’s religious persuasion? Yes. But individuals are more complex than that. Nothing can substitute for relational interaction and genuine care.


“Nothing can substitute for relational interaction and genuine care.”


Here’s a final danger to be aware of: It is possible for well-meaning preachers and teachers to use biblical worldview training as an opportunity to sneak in teaching which is more about the cultural and political leanings of the teacher than about what the Bible actually teaches. Let’s say you were wanting to dissuade your students from embracing socialism as an economic system. Training your students in the virtues of free market capitalism and the failures of socialistic policies is one thing. But doing so and calling it “biblical worldview training” is a stretch. It’s probably better to reserve the term “biblical worldview” for the bigger questions which the Bible provides clear answers on.

What’s dangerous about not teaching a biblical worldview?

Have you thought about what your Christianity or discipleship becomes when it remains disconnected from how Scripture answers life’s biggest questions? In other words, when we claim to be disciples, but we get our actual views of reality from somewhere else? For too many, Christianity has become a personal, inspirational, watered-down “faith” without any meaningful implication for how we live life. As Christian sociologist Os Guinness lamented, “Many Christians have a faith too privatized. Privately engaging, publicly irrelevant. It’s not integrated.”

Where should we start in teaching a biblical worldview?

To start with, every disciple and every child raised in a Christian home needs to know the basic worldview of Scripture, with a focus on the gospel. Church leaders have an obligation to make that framework crystal clear. It is the priority in disciple-making homes and churches. We teach preachers and elders, who tell us they want to shift to disciple making, to start with this focus first. We teach leaders to start with the gospel itself. Make it clear for the people.


“Start with the gospel itself. Make it clear for the people.”


New Testament scholar Matthew Bates helpfully summarizes the gospel, our response to it, and its benefits for us in the following ways:

What is the gospel?

Jesus is the saving king who[1]

  1. preexisted as God the Son,
  2. was sent by the Father,
  3. took on human flesh in fulfillment of God’s promises to David,
  4. died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
  5. was buried,
  6. was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
  7. appeared to many witnesses,
  8. is enthroned at the right hand of God as the ruling Christ,[2]
  9. has sent the Holy Spirit to his people to effect his rule, and
  10. will come again as final judge to rule.

What is the gospel response?

Our response to the gospel is faith, which is allegiance, loyalty, and faithfulness to Jesus the king.

What are the gospel’s benefits?

The gospel’s benefits for those who have faith is new life in the forgiveness of sin, the indwelling Holy Spirit, new identity, purpose, kingdom life here and in eternity, and all of God’s promises for the new heaven and new earth.

Conclusion

Again, there is a bigger storyline to a biblical worldview, but the gospel is the magnificent core.

In Scripture, God gives us the true view of the world. Everyone will be blessed by knowing and believing it. So, let’s share the gospel and Scripture’s answers to life’s biggest questions. As we do so, we help the people we disciple think and live with Jesus Christ at the center, in a way that is personally and publicly relevant.

And in so doing, we will invite a hearing for the truthfulness of our faith in a rapidly changing world that needs the hope of a biblical worldview now more than ever.


[1] Matthew Bates, The Gospel Precisely: Surprisingly Good News about Jesus the King (Renew, 2021).

[2] The reason Bates italicizes #8 is that Jesus’ enthronement is often repeated in the New Testament as the gospel’s climax. 

 

 

 

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GUEST POST: #REIMAGINE...Systems to Move Forward

 

 8 Systems you will find essential moving forward

New blog post from Bob Logan

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Where do you go from here? It’s been a rough couple of years for everyone, and that’s certainly also true of the church. You have been thinking for some time about the new normal—about moving forward on mission to share the love of Christ with a weary world. But where to start? What needs to be dropped? What essentials are needed moving forward? How might they need to be tweaked in order to not just survive but to thrive in the coming years? 

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Moving forward, you will need these 8 Essential Systems

These 8 systems are essential to a thriving ministry. You likely already have them in place. However, the methodology with which they are implemented may need some rethinking in order to thrive in the post pandemic world. As you read through, think about how the system is related to moving your mission forward, how it is currently organized in your ministry, and how effective it is in its current state.

1. How you empower leadership

You need a leadership structure that empowers others. If there was any doubt that a top-down leadership structure where the professionals do the work of the ministry wasn’t a good idea, that ministry approach has now been thoroughly debunked. When the congregation is separated from the lead pastor, we now see and experience the absolute importance of lay leaders. One pastor cannot effectively shepherd 300 people. The ratio needs to be about 1:10. Even Jesus only did 1:12.

A highly relational, high touch, high contact kind of leadership really helps people grow in their faith in personal, meaningful ways. Find ways to make your leadership structure as flat and as grassroots as possible if you want to be ready to reach the world as it emerges from Covid. Moving forward, consider how you can empower others through: 

  • Modeling 
  • Vision-casting 
  • Mobilizing and equipping 
  • Coaching 
  • Multiplying 

2. How you help people develop their spiritual gifts and empower their use

You need relentless focus on developing and ministering out of spiritual gifts. Everybody needs to be doing the ministry, not just the paid staff. Fortunately, this is how the Holy Spirit set things up in the first place at Pentecost: by giving spiritual gifts to every man, woman, and child with faith in Jesus. I have written quite extensively on my blog recently about developing spiritual gifts in people. It’s more essential than ever in today’s world.

Consider: if the main ministry of the church is producing an online service for viewing, who is reached? Possibly someone new may tune in and watch it, which is wonderful. But what about if every single person in that congregation made use of their spiritual gifts every week in some small way. Who might be reached then? You see the difference, and it’s stark. Imagine your church’s impact if you provided a way for everyone to: 

  • Understand spiritual gifts 
  • Discover their own spiritual gifts 
  • Confirm their giftedness through practice 
  • Become a part of a ministry-wise gifts mobilization system 

3. How you help people experience God everyday

You need to consider the practice and presence of a passionate spirituality in daily lives of each person in your congregation. Connection with God can certainly come from watching or participating in a worship service, but it needs to go beyond simple church attendance.

How can we help people experience God as part of their everyday lives? Most people have no church-based activity 5 to 6 days out of the week. What about those days? How can they experience the presence of God? That’s especially important in times of social isolation, fear, and hopelessness… which is where many of us have found ourselves lately. We each one of us need ways to anchor ourselves in Christ, ways that work for us uniquely. That means: 

  • Finding ways to love God with your whole, heart, mind, soul and strength
  • Developing a personal passion for God through a variety of spiritual disciplines or practices
  • Worshipping God alongside others in sometimes creative ways
  • Embracing the mission God is calling us toward, both individually and corporately 

4. How you help people do what God has called them do to

You would do well to revisit and re-examine the actual structures built into our congregations. Consider… during covid, which structures collapsed? Which structures did you need to rely on even more? Which needed to be revamped completely? This area of basic structures in the church is one we need to reexamine periodically anyway, but at the same time one we are most likely to forget about.

Structures matter. Ineffective structures that no longer accomplish their intended purpose can actually serve to prevent and restrict ministry. They become blockages. Structures are the ‘hows.’ How do you determine vision for the new year? Or how do you safeguard church finances? What is your decision-making process? How do you handle conflicts? Make a list of the often-unspoken systems in your church, and then evaluate them in the following ways. Does this structure: 

  • Support the church’s values, vision and mission? 
  • Accomplish the intended results? 
  • Promote ministry more than hindering it? 
  • Have a positive effect on the people and the culture of the church? 
  • Make use of a wide variety of people’s giftedness? 
  • Contribute to reproducibility? 

5. How you worship God together

You need to rethink corporate worship. That is the area we have most visibly needed to change during the pandemic, and it’s worth considering what worked well and what didn’t. Obviously, many services went online. Varying attempts, with varying success, were made to make the online experience interactive.

Moving forward, as we can in many cases meet in person again, what new practices would be helpful to take with us? What other pre-pandemic practices can we re-embrace? Areas to especially consider are participation and interactivity, music and singing, and communion. We can also consider worship as part of our weekday lives, and worship in smaller group settings. The era of experimentation is upon us. Everything we evaluate and try can be measured against the following categories: 

  • alive to the presence of God
  • cultural appropriateness
  • worship modeled by leaders
  • a clear theme and response goal
  • effective transitions and flow
  • maximum participation
  • meaningfulness to both regular attendees and newcomers

6. How you meet everyone’s needs

You really do need holistic small groups. Small groups have become more important than ever before. In many times of difficulty and persecution, the church has found refuge in small groups of people meeting together. We do not actually need a full corporate worship service to be the church; everything we need is found in a small group of people. God has provided spiritual gifts to be used, a means of corporate prayer, community support and encouragement, and a forum for reading and discussing the scriptures.

Consider what happened when the pandemic began: those who were already part of a small group often found themselves drawn closer to that group of people for support, being a part of text threads, sharing and praying together virtually, connected to some kind of support system bigger than themselves or just their own household. Those who were not a part of a small group may have watched church services online, or they may not have. And often no one noticed they had left the church until after in-person services began again. It’s time for a full reexamination of the essential role small groups of people play in the life of faith and worship. Moving forward, be sure to consider the following elements: 

  • integrating small groups into the rest of the church 
  • implementing a functional small group ministry
  • training and coaching leaders
  • starting and multiplying groups
  • including children and youth 

7. How you connect with the community

You need to engage with your wider community in fresh ways. If the church is only focused inward, it has lost its mission and even its reason for being. If we are not helping the world, reaching the world, and serving the world, why are we here? For decades I have been preaching that we as believers need to come outside the walls of the church and meet people on their own turf, where they are comfortable, out in the world of work, home, and recreation. This is the public sphere, the great marketplace and town square of our times. Today, if we reach out at all, we have no choice but to do it in the public sphere.

The whole concept of “inviting people to church” has fallen by the wayside in the last couple of years. The ways the church has been decentralized during the pandemic are many… and that reality presents opportunities. Look for those opportunities. How can we serve? What needs can we meet? Not only spiritual, but emotional emotional, and physical as well? How can we communicate the gospel relationally? Who needs to experience God’s love? How can the church facilitate that experience? It’s time to find new ways to reach out… ways that: 

  • communicate the gospel in a culturally relevant manner
  • serve to meet real needs of the community 
  • empower others in the congregation to reach out 
  • assimilate newcomers into the life of the church
  • establishing new Christians in loving obedience

8. How you connect to each other

You need healthy relational connection. How connected are we relationally as a congregation? Pre-pandemic we would often track attendance at events, socials, worship services, or small groups as a means of tracking relational connection. But how accurate is that as a measurement? How else might we assess true relational connection? To what degree do people feel part of the community, noticed, cared for, and reached out to by others? What was your system like for keeping track of your people during the pandemic? How would you know if someone was struggling? Did you rely on self-reporting? Or did others who were connected relationally take notice first?

How well the church fosters healthy relational connection is a telling litmus test for the health of the church. The love we have for one another is to function as a practical demonstration of the love God has for us. Moving forward, the relational connection at your church must address these elements: 

  • Close relationships rooted in honesty 
  • People who are a part of each other’s daily lives 
  • An intentional spurring on of one another toward love and good deeds 
  • A cultivation of authentic Christian community 
  • The development of health interpersonal relationships 
  • Reflecting God’s love to the surrounding world 

Moving forward

Spend some time this week thinking through each of these areas as they relate to your congregation. What is currently working well? Which areas are not functioning well? What have you learned from the pandemic about this area? Moving forward, what do you want to see change? How might you take the first steps in doing that?

Resources

The Leadership Difference– If you are running up against barriers that aren’t specifically theological but are more about how to lead people and get along with them as you work together, this is the book for you.

Leadership Skills Guides- Develop your people into leaders by meeting them where they are at and helping them take the next appropriate step. This download covers 37 skills across 6 topics and includes a leader guide and a participant guide and is meant to be worked through in a nonlinear fashion.

Leadership Multiplication Pathway- This series is a power system to identify your purpose, focus your ministry, become an effective leader, and multiply your mission. This is great to walk through with a coach!

Photo by Steven Lelham on Unsplash

The post 8 Systems you will find essential moving forward appeared first on Logan Leadership.

Copyright © 2022 Robert E. Logan, All rights reserved.

 

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GUEST POST: Risking Love for Neighbors, Strangers, Enemies

10401596287?profile=RESIZE_710xA Conversation With Catherine McNiel

Author Of Fearing Bravely: Risking Love For Our Neighbors, Strangers, And Enemies

 


Q: Explain the title of your book. We may not get over all of our fear, but we can live and love bravely. 

While He was on earth, Jesus was teaching His followers to not be afraid, even while He was being pursued to death. Something about living through Jesus’ death and resurrection helped His disciples see that God’s love was powerful enough to not give in to fear. They lived in a time which could have been very fear inducing, but they knew the power of God. Jesus is inviting us to do dangerous and scary things, in His name, for the sake of neighbors and strangers. 

 


Q: You use the phrase “discipled by fear” in your book. How can we be discipled by truth instead of fear? 

We often lack awareness of how heavily our culture is forming us each day. Through the media we consume and the messages we repeat, we can be shaped into people who are afraid. So, the first step is to gain awareness of how we are being shaped by the voices we let into our lives. Then we need to be so immersed in the words of Jesus that the Holy Spirit can prompt us to test what we are hearing against God’s truth. 

Q: Each section of the book includes suggestions of art and music to reinforce your themes. Why was this part of your application in the book? 

The creative aspect provides another angle to influence our hearts and minds. They can give us practice using a different “muscle” to focus on God’s love instead of giving in to fear. The practical steps in each section are best done in community. We need to work together to change our mindset and live in love. God invites us to create a new kind of community and world, to reflect His love. 

Q: You go beyond neighbors and strangers, to call us to love our enemies. You acknowledge that this is a hard teaching of Jesus. How do we move toward love of enemies? 

First of all, we can’t dispute that Jesus included this in His teaching. So, we can skip the debates about whether or not it is okay to hate certain people. Jesus doesn’t give us any loopholes. And it isn’t easy if we are honest. The solution is to flood ourselves with light. If I am filling my mind with God’s lovingkindness, which is abundant toward me, then I have more capacity to love. I can’t love from my own triggered, wounded place. The root of my love has to be God’s love, which actually can overcome fear, hate, and evil.

Lovingkindness Exercise: 

During a time of quiet prayer, remember the loving, nurturing heart of God—the same lovingkindness the Bible teaches and Jesus embodies. Imagine a space filled with this love, then picture yourself in it. 

Once you have grown comfortable in this spacious place of love, bring to mind others that you love. Begin widening the space to include them. Then, recall people you don’t know well, or have neutral feelings about, and allow the space of God’s grace and love to cover them too. 

Finally, bring to mind enemies, one at a time. Don’t begin this process with the person who has harmed you the most; choose instead someone who frustrates or annoys you. Then, bit by bit, day by day, expand this circle a bit further in your mind. If the process becomes too traumatic, seek the help of a pastor, spiritual director, or therapist. 

God’s love already covers us all, but practicing these prayers day after day allows God to renew our minds and change our hearts. 

Want More from Fearing Bravely?

Loving like Jesus is important for any social circle: family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, strangers, etc. Fearing Bravely, by Catherine McNiel helps to name the obstacles that keep us from loving this way and take the next steps to remove them. Click the link below to download your FREE PDF sample of this book. DOWNLOAD HERE

Adapted from Fearing Bravely. Copyright © 2022. Used by permission of NavPress represented by Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.

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GUEST POST: #ReimaginePRAYER...Pray for a Business in Your Community

John Piper, theologian, pastor, and author, tells how George Muller, the prayer legend of the 19th century, said that for years he tried to pray without starting in the Bible in the morning. Inevitably, his mind wandered. He said his prayers were weak and powerless. 

 

Then he added the habit of using the Bible in prayer, and turned the Book into a prayer manual as he read, and for 40 years he was able to stay focused and powerful in prayer. 

 

Piper then notes, “I have seen that those whose prayers are most saturated with Scripture are generally most fervent and most effective in prayer. And where the mind isn't brimming with the Bible, the heart is not generally brimming with prayer.“ 

 

Our first Wednesday email of the month has a focus to help facilitate prayer that you can use for your business, community, city, and country. 

 

1. Begin with Thanksgiving and Gratitude to the Lord for being our Protector (Psalm 100:4; 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Psalm 18:2; Psalm 127:1).

 

2. Pray that Jesus will revive His believers and His church to His Beauty, Love, and Supremacy (2 Chronicles 7:13-15; Psalm 85:6; Habakkuk 3:2-3a; Acts 2:37-41).

 

3. Pray for unity between believers in every sphere of culture. Pray that walls of theology, doctrine and practice will come down. Pray for offenses to be forgiven. Pray for love to grow and flow in us and through us making us one with Christ (John 17:21-23; Psalm 133:1-3; Acts 4:24).

 

4. Pray for those that are unbelievers, or believe but have wandered away, or have been offended by Christians, to be visited again by the love of God whether through dreams, visions, friendship, or something they see, hear or read (Acts 26:18; Romans 10:1; Galatians 4:19; 2 Peter 3:9).

 

5. Pray for relationships. Pray that Jesus will heal, restore, and strengthen every God-designed friendship, partnership, and family (Romans 15:5-7; Malachi 4:5-6; Joshua 24:15).

 

6. Pray for your local, state and national government that they will honor God and be given wisdom and serve with integrity, justice and mercy (1 Timothy 2:1-2; Romans 13:1; Micah 6:8).

 

7. Ask God to bless your city as you pray for its peace, welfare, and prosperity (Proverbs 11:11; Jeremiah 29:7,11; Acts 3:26). 

 

May the Lord bless you as you partner with Jesus to be a house of prayer for all nations. 

 

Your prayer partner in Christ’s love,

 

Bob Perry 

Workplace Prayer A Ministry of A.C.T. P.O. Box 1649 Brentwood, TN 37024 United States

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GUEST POST ~ Reorient Your Despair Over Our Culture

Despairing Over the Culture? There's Still a Reason to Get Out of Bed Tomorrow

 

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Giving in to Despair?

One of the questions that Christians ask repeatedly at the moment is whether there is any hope or should we simply despair? Is the world so intent on dismantling what it means to be a human being that society is doomed to collapse, or at least committed to shunting Christians and Christianity to its far margins? The obvious answer is that yes, hope springs eternal for Christians because we know that Christ wins in the end, that the gates of hell will not ultimately prevail, and that the marriage feast of the Lamb will take place. Yet, while all true, there is a certain glibness to such a response if that is all that is said. For the question of hope is not simply one that asks about the ultimate end of history but one which typically has a more immediate, personal dimension for us: in asking about grounds for hope we are also asking about how we might find the motivation now to avoid despair and the personal experience of hopelessness that our present context often brings to our lives as individuals. The end of history is a long way away; the need to find a reason to get out of bed tomorrow morning has a more pressing urgency.

Ironically, the feeling of impotence and despair that many Christians feel in the face of the dramatic social changes we are experiencing is itself a function of the kind of self-hood that has led to those changes. If the sexual revolution is rooted in a notion of the human self as unencumbered with obligations towards others and as free to create its own identity and pursue its own pleasures as it sees fit, then this is also the reason why so many good Christian people are so despondent at the moment. It is not that we have forgotten our obligations to those around us—indeed, it is the frustration of our ability to fulfill those obligations (the protection of the unborn, of children, of the most vulnerable in society) that fuels our anxiety and despair. Rather, it is that we have forgotten our obligation to those of generations to come. Modern men and women—whether secular or religious—think too much in the short term. We want results now. We forget that we work today not just for the present but for the long-term future.

Strange New World

Strange New World

Carl R. Trueman

Carl Trueman identifies the historical, philosophical, and technological influences that have shaped present-day identity politics and teaches believers how to shift their modern understanding of personhood to a biblical perspective.

A Short-Term Mentality

The contrast with earlier generations is instructive. Take, for example, Cologne Cathedral, perhaps the single greatest example of medieval Gothic architecture that Europe ever produced. Building work started in 1248 but was not completed until 1880. Now, a significant delay was caused by the various wars that tore western Europe apart from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, but, even so, one thing is true: the original architect and the first masons hewing the first stones knew that they would never live to see the building completed, to enter through its magnificent doors, or to worship in the austere splendor of its sanctuary. And yet they still considered the task worthwhile. All of the hard work, and indeed the immense physical risk, involved was a small price to pay for constructing something they themselves would never live to enjoy.

That is incomprehensible to most of us today. The idea that we might work for something that not even our grandchildren might see come to fruition is a profoundly alien concept to our culture. We are children of an age of instant gratification with reference to the deep and worthwhile things in life as well as to the consumerist ephemera with which we surround ourselves.

It is worthwhile asking why that is. The answer is that the men and women of the thirteenth century saw themselves and the world they inhabited as embedded in something much bigger: a cosmos that was itself embedded in God and therefore had a meaning that transcended both the raw material from which it was made and the present moment of its existence. Thus, they built things like Cologne Cathedral because they knew the world was not about them and that they had obligations not simply to their own day and generation but to generations to come. That they could build fast enough to see the final fruit of their labor was of little account. They were building for future generations, that they might have a glorious building in which to offer praise to God.

We want results now. We forget that we work today not just for the present but for the long-term future.

Reorienting Our Perspective

That medieval mentality, whereby the individual found significance and purpose precisely in seeing themselves not as the center of the universe but as part of a larger whole with responsibility to future generations is something that should animate us today. To return to the question, Is there any hope or should we simply despair? The response should be: there may be no hope that our culture will be different by this time next week, next year, or even within my lifetime. But that does not mean we do not work here and now for the benefit of those future generations to whom we have an obligation. We may not live to see them, but that does not free us from our responsibility towards them.

And so, today we are called to be faithful, not because our work will come to fruition in the near future. Rather, we do it because it lays the foundation upon which our spiritual descendants can stand and then build. Hope lies not in the day after tomorrow but in the generations to come, and we must not allow the setbacks of today to discourage us from fulfilling our obligations to them.

The New Testament model of the Christian life points to precisely this kind of thinking. We are to hold fast to a form of sound words, we are to follow the teaching of the apostles, and through faithful worship and witness we are to pass the faith on to future generations. Paul knew this well, and thus he was able to see all of the personal setbacks and suffering of his ministry as a light, momentary affliction compared to the eternal glory that is to come. All of us need that future orientation if we are to fight today’s battles without losing heart. We need to relativize our present, and indeed ourselves, in the context of the larger divine plan of which we are privileged to be a small part.

Carl R. Trueman is the author of Strange New World: How Thinkers and Activists Redefined Identity and Sparked the Sexual Revolution.



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7 Reflections on the State of the Evangelical Church

on Discipleship.org
 

I am writing to you to share some pastoral reflections on the broader evangelical world. These observations were highlighted during Discipleship.org’s participation at the recent Exponential Church Planting conference in Florida last week. My reflections also come from my home church and the numerous church leaders I have been training and coaching recently.

Here are my reflections.

  1. Evangelical Beliefs are Fracturing in North America.

For almost 200 years, there was a basic Protestant consensus in America when it came to some basic worldview questions. That consensus was shared by Southern Baptists, Churches of Christ, Assemblies of God, and the other churches. That consensus focused on six key items:

  • The reliability and authority of Scripture
  • The necessity of salvation through Jesus Christ
  • The vital importance of evangelism of all people
  • The vital role of the local church for Christian life
  • The morality of the Bible, especially in sexuality and the 10 Commandments
  • Serving others and helping those in need

That consensus is breaking down.

The first item is the most influential. A high view of Scripture leads us to embrace the other elements of evangelical Christianity: the necessity of salvation in Jesus Christ, an emphasis on evangelism, the vital role of the local church, etc.

Yet the reliability and authority of Scripture is being undermined in more and more churches by progressive Christianity.

This movement used to live primarily within mainline, liberal denominations. But it is now gaining a foothold in the evangelical church. Here is a concise definition of the heart of progressive Christianity: the willingness to compromise or reinterpret Scripture to fit in with the progressive ideals of our culture.

Progressives think they are building an on-ramp to Christianity for people immersed in the culture, but, in reality, they are building an exit-ramp for Christians to embrace the views of the culture.

The alternative to Progressive Christianity is biblical discipleship and is characterized by the willingness to uphold the Lordship/Kingship of Jesus as taught in Scripture – regardless of cultural pressures. This rootedness in Scripture’s authority shows why biblical discipleship involves standing against the impulse to force Scripture to fit cultural ideals.

One’s view of the reliability and authority of Scripture is key in navigating this cultural moment. Whereas progressive Christianity is more of a theological movement, there are political movements, both rightist and leftist, which would co-opt and conscript our historic faith to serve as lapdogs to give religious legitimacy to their platforms. Whether the temptation is coming from those on the right and on those on the left, the kingship of Jesus through Scripture is our higher authority and demands our ultimate allegiance.

More can be said about this point, but the key for us is that we are called by Jesus to uphold the primacy and reliability of Scripture.

Much is being lost from the historic Christian consensus in churches today because of the combination of strong progressive cultural pressure and a low view of Scripture.

———–

The Gospel Coalition and RENEW.org have resources that show a better way on a daily basis. I recommend looking to those two sites for regular guidance.  Additionally, here are four key resources (there are so many) to help you respond to progressive Christianity:

Two Key Books

Two Key Podcasts

  1. Evangelical Christians Do Not Know Scripture Like They Did in the Past.

A big part of the reason why the progressives are winning over more and more evangelical Christians to their beliefs and worldview is that fewer and fewer evangelical Christians are regularly reading their Bibles and actually know the teachings of Scripture. For the last several decades, the typical evangelical church has dropped much of its programming that focused on Scripture (such as Sunday school and Wednesday night services) and they are relying just on Sunday morning sermons to get their people into the Bible. And the sermons are often dependent upon inspiration, personal stories, and practical applications—without a steady diet of biblical teaching.

The sermons inspire people, but too often they do not teach people how to read and understand God’s Word. The net result is that people are spending less and less time in the Bible.

At the same time, individuals and families tend to be reading less and less Scripture at home.

Into this environment, the dominant voices of social media, the university, and entertainment are speaking progressive values. They are discipling the minds of more and more people into ideals built on other worldviews (such as the ideology of intersectional feminism, which you can see played out in many Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity trainings).

Although many of our Western ideals (e.g., the equal value of all people; all ethnicities being of the same family) arise from Christian influence, many newer secular and intersectional ideals do not fit in with the teaching of the Word of God, and many actually work to inflame tensions and divide people into tribalistic camps.

————

The church must point to a better way. We must provide a genuine countercultural alternative to what is happening in the world. We recommend a strategy to disciple everyone in Scripture and what it teaches. Here are six specific recommendations that come from my experiences as the lead pastor of my local church.

  • Make sermons primarily expository, teaching through books of the Bible.
  • Make Scripture the primary curriculum for small groups (not just books about Scripture). Get everyone to regularly apply Scripture to life.
  • Develop supplemental discipleship groups (small, I’d recommend 3-5 people only) where Scripture engagement and memorization become the norm.
  • Develop Scripture reading plans that encourage individuals and families to be in the Word daily (e.g., reading through the entire New Testament in 2022).
  • Provide in-depth Bible study classes that require extra reading and Scripture memorization for those who are willing and able to join.
  • Provide special 1.5 to 2-hour in-depth seminars grounded in Scripture at least six times a year.

We want to encourage everyone to personally learn the teachings of Jesus—and put them into practice.

  1. There is a Crisis in Family Discipleship.

It was about a year ago that I first met a senior pastor from a huge church in Austin, Texas. This leader and his church with 6,500 in pre-COVID attendance have a great reputation for adhering to Scripture, leading wisely, and planting churches. The senior pastor told me how, based on the cultural realities revealed during COVID, they pivoted to a focus on family discipleship. They made this the central question they would wrestle with: How could they disciple families to disciple their children so that the children could arrive into adulthood being faithful to Jesus in a culture that would persecute them because of their faithfulness to Jesus?

I met up that same senior pastor at Exponential last week, and he and his team have not lost their resolve or focus. He pointed out several books and trends that describe the strong and ungodly influences gaining ascendancy in our culture. I may not have his words exactly verbatim, but he told me something I found chilling: “Once a child is over 11 years of age and they have been in the public school system, it is becoming harder and harder to disciple that child to uphold the counter-cultural teachings of Jesus.” “We are struggling to effectively help those families,” he continued. “We think it is probably best to focus our energies on the families whose children are at a younger age.”

Wow.

As soon as he said those words, my mind raced to the comments of a thirteen-year-old girl who has been attending our church recently. In a sermon, I mentioned that we have to resist cultural pressure from both the right and from the left. In describing the pressure from the left, I had simply mentioned the pressure from transgender ideology and from those who advocate a LGBTQ agenda in general. The young lady came up to me after the sermon and told me that I was homophobic for what I’d said. Her parents explained to me later that she had learned that at school. Another pastor told me last week of a father he is discipling. The father can no longer have civil conversations with his twelve-year-old son because his son so strongly disagrees with his father on LGBTQ issues.

The Barna Group makes this point: “In some ways, the church is not preparing young disciples for the world as it is. Cultural discernment is about teaching them not just what to think but also how to live. We must prepare them for the world as it truly is, not as we wish it to be.”

—————

 Our churches must be laser-focused on helping parents with family discipleship. Here are three key resources:

  1. Many Pastors/Leaders are Confused About the Best Direction.

As you can easily guess from what I have written, it is a difficult time to be a pastor/leader in a church. Old models and systems seem no longer sufficient for the times in which we live.

Many pastors were mistreated during the two years that COVID dominated our country. They were beat up by those on the right who did not think they were focused enough defending conservative political values and causes. They were beat up by those on the left who thought they did not do enough to support government vaccine and mask mandates and that they did speak out enough on racial issues.

They are now weary with the realization that some 20% of those who attended church pre-COVID are not returning, unless there is revival in the nation. They are fearful the percentage in their church might be even higher. They are not sure how to navigate the current cultural landmines.

We do not yet have established road maps for how to deal with the current challenges created by ever-present social media, anxiety, outrage, and tech monopolies.

—————

In addition to serious thinking on methods for navigating this brave new world, we strongly advocate that we must also return to our essential roots and focus on the basics.

  • We have to go back to Jesus,
  • We have to go back to Scripture (as our core curriculum),
  • We have to go back to the gospel, and
  • We have to go back to Jesus-style disciple making. 
  1. Many Pastors are Shifting Their Focus to Disciple Making.

COVID has devastated many churches and shown weakness in all our churches. In many churches, attendance is just getting back to 60% of what it was, with some having an attendance of just 50%. Many Christians have gotten out of the habit of going to church altogether.

Finally, some good news: Almost all church leaders that I talk to are now speaking of the crucial need to focus on disciple making. We’re seeing so much negative fruit of non-biblical thinking and beliefs in many who claim to be Christians—because Sunday mornings are simply not enough. Most realize that if people are not in discipling relationships outside Sunday morning, too many will be lost to the culture.

  1. Focusing on Disciple Making is Easier Said Than Done.

It was over 12 years ago that we first sought to re-focus my home church on disciple making. We switched our focus from Sunday mornings and attractional programming to a focus on discipling relationships. We then also developed what we call “T-Groups” (transformation groups of 3-5 people). We now have around 80% of our members in small groups and T-Groups.

We have not arrived, but we have made good progress.

All of our elders and leaders are on the same page with this focus. And that is a big deal. But we are an anomaly among churches. Most churches talk about discipleship and disciple making, but they don’t have a plan and they are floundering.

Again, we must keep doubling down on our focus and keep working on it with God’s help. But we can thank God for the progress we have made. My hope and prayer is that there will be countless churches to progress beyond my church and others that I know who are focused on creating a disciple making culture. Every day I am learning of churches who are surpassing us in various ways. Let me say it as clearly as I can: a focus on Jesus-style disciple making is the most biblical and important focus your church can possess as it faces the winds of our culture. May God bless you in your efforts.

————

At Discipleship.org we have multiple partners who can help you to shift your church to a disciple making focus. Check them out at https://discipleship.org/partners/. 

  1. We Must Double-Down on Becoming People Who Fast and Pray for the Holy Spirit’s Power.

I am convinced that we have great power amid the challenges that we face. In the words of Romans 8:31, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” We come from a long line of disciples of Jesus going back through twenty centuries who have faced greater challenges than what we face. They endured.

They were strong because they relied on God.

They found power through personal reliance on the Holy Spirit through prayer and fasting. There has never been a better time to become experienced in the spiritual practices of prayer and fasting. Jesus made us a promise in Luke 11: 9-10: “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”

It’s time to reclaim this focus.

There is no time that is better.

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GUEST POST ~ #ReimagineCHRISTIANITY...In America

What Is an Evangelical?

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Are you an evangelical? It’s complicated. I thought I was until someone told me that since I was, I was also a white supremacist. This is what happens when theological terms are defined by the broader culture. So let’s clarify what it means.

The Complexity of the Modern Term

“Evangelical” is a contemporary grouping of Protestant Christians that have their roots in late eighteenth and early nineteenth-century revivalism. They generally share four characteristics, the well-known Bebbington Quadrilateral: biblicism (the centrality of the Bible), conversionism (the individual acceptance of Jesus as Savior), activism (the requirement for evangelism and mission), and crucicentrism (the atoning work of Jesus on the cross). While some of these characteristics may be shared with other Christian traditions, evangelicals are also further located in the context of the twentieth-century debates between theological liberals and conservatives. These three ideas—Protestant Christianity, revivalism, and Bebbington’s Quadrilateral—triangulate the social identity of evangelicals in the United States today.

The term is not used the same way in other parts of the world. In Europe, for example, it refers to an ecclesial identity that is not Roman Catholic. In the UK, it shares some similarities with the use in mainland Europe; however, it is also used as a subgroup identity for low-church Anglicans, as well as for those not attached to the Church of England but still identified by the above three ideas. This suggests that “evangelical” is not simply a political identity, as it is all too often presented in the early twenty-first century, though it is a contested and somewhat malleable term.

The New Testament Root of “Evangelical”

The term “evangelical” draws from the lexical setting of the New Testament Greek noun euangelion, which can have a contextual meaning such as “good news” or, as some English translations of the Bible translate it, “gospel” (Gal. 1:11; Rom. 1:1, 16). The rationale for this group label is that those committed to biblicism, conversionism, activism, and crucicentrism may properly be understood as those who have aligned their patterns of belief and embodiment with the aims of the gospel. It is the message that God has acted in Jesus of Nazareth in order to redeem humanity, establish the kingdom, and restore creation. The ecclesial communities who identify themselves as evangelical understand their mission as the proclamation of this good news throughout the world. While there is significant debate as to the social implications of the gospel, there is agreement on the centrality of Jesus to the message.

When the diverse ecclesial label “evangelical” is attached to the term “theology,” it raises a perennial challenge: How does one define evangelical theology ? It is a theology that has its focus on the gospel of Jesus Christ from beginning to end. Several implications may be detected from this. Evangelical theology is fully Trinitarian, orthodox in its Christological teaching, and animated both by Christ’s atoning work on the cross and by the centrality of the Christian community of faith, gathered for worship and mission.

Twin Components: “Protestantism” and “Revivalism”

Two terms mentioned in the opening sentence of this post need further definition: (a) Protestantism and (b) revivalism, since evangelicalism is a nested social identity within these two movements from church history. Protestantism is a sixteenth-century movement of protest concerning the beliefs and practices of the Roman Catholic Church, itself a branch of Christendom that resulted from an earlier split with the Orthodox Church in 1054. The material principle of the Protestant Reformation—what made it possible—is that justification of sinners occurs by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. The formal principle—its unique shape—is Scripture alone. Scripture formed the doctrine that made possible a movement to reform the church for the glory of God alone. Since a protest movement is inherently unstable, though, Protestantism quickly branched into four streams: Lutheran, Reformed, Anglican, and Anabaptist. As these grew, further movements developed: Baptists, Methodists, and eventually Pentecostals.

The second movement important for understanding evangelicalism is revivalism, a conversion-and-renewal movement in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Its roots were in the Reformation’s Lutheran stream in Germany that developed into pietism—an approach to the Christian life emphasizing holiness and personal experience in contrast to the dry orthodoxy that had overtaken much of Europe. A shared spiritual ethos also developed with Puritanism, especially in England and America, along with the Great Awakening and eventually the Pentecostal outpourings. Revivalism was characterized by (a) longing for repentance, (b) confident expectation for revival, (c) gospel proclamation, and (d) renewal of ardor and scripturally based worship and mission practices.

Recent Movements Around the Evangelical Label

Why does this matter? In the last several years, there has been a move to give up on the “evangelical” label, with some referring to themselves as “ex-evangelicals.” It has also, no doubt, been co-opted by political leaders and has drifted from its original gospel orientation. Labels matter, though, and sometimes we need to revisit what they indicate. When my evangelical identity reconnects the gospel with my theology and the church, it is functioning the way it should. But when it only connects an inward-focused subgroup, a condition referred to as koinonitis, then an intervention is needed—one that requires more than Dr. Phil.

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GUEST POST ~ When The Church Becomes A Business

WHEN THE CHURCH BECOMES A BUSINESS
  
1)    Pastors function like CEOs
2)    Members are turned into customers
3)    Other churches are seen as competitions
4)    Evangelism is reduced to marketing
5)    Church planting looks more like franchising.
6)    Numbers are primary measure of success
7)    Prayer and Word study are replaced by formulas
8)    Revival is reduced to a few days fund-raising program
9)    Preaching sounds more like motivational speech. All the people do is shout "I receive, Amen," throughout the concert. I mean the "service".
10)  Praise and Worship is turned into a performance. The best actors are made the worship and praise leaders.
11)  The Spirit of God is reduced to "emotionalism". No real power of God other than hypnosis and sensationalism.
12)  The saints are entertained instead of equipped
13)  Disciples of Christ have become papa's sons, daughters and fans.
14)  The Church, a living Body has now become a lifeless body
15)   A leader's empire is built instead of the Kingdom of God advanced
16)  The pastor becomes the super man and Jesus Christ reduced to just another religious figure.
 
Does any one of these sound familiar in this generation? Beloved, if you are under these pattern of "Christianity" you are already in a cult, not the Church of Jesus Christ. Get out before it is too late!!!
 
THY KINGDOM COME
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GUEST POST ~

Christ-Like Behavior Reveals Your Identity

February 6, 2022 
 
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YOUR GLOBAL LINK WITH THE WORLD
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“Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them!”—Luke 6:31 (MSG).

If you were to walk through the front door of my house, you’d be able to identify my favorite color. After a brief look around my living room, you’d know red is my favorite. I chose neutral colors for my furniture but use colorful red pillows, candles, and other décor to liven up my living space. You’ll also find pops of red in my kitchen.

Other décor throughout my house reveals my identity as a Christ-follower. On my bookcase, are mementos of my trip to the Holy Land in 2010, including a small statue of Jesus washing Peter’s feet. On another shelf, one of my favorite framed pictures is displayed.

In the painting, Jesus is shown writing in the sand beside a woman who has been accused of adultery. In John 8: 3-11, we read about the Pharisees who tried to trap Jesus into condemning this woman to death because of her sinful behavior. They want to stone her. However, Jesus tells the Pharisees, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

What Our Behavior Reveals to Others

Remember the story of the Good Samaritan? In Luke 10:25-37, Jesus is confronted by an expert in the law who asks Him, “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Verse 25).

When Jesus asks him about the Law—what is written in it, and how do you read it—the law expert replies, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself” (Verses 26-27).

Jesus tells him the answer is correct, and adds, “Do this and you will live.” However, to justify himself, he asks Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

When We Try to Justify Our Behavior

Justifying our behavior by giving excuses or demanding more answers is what we often do when we want to prove we’re right. In the scripture above, Luke 10:25-37, Jesus goes on to share the story of the man who was headed to Jericho from Jerusalem. On the way, he is attacked, beaten, and stripped of his clothes and belongings. He is left half dead.

Three men pass by on the road. A priest, a Levite, and a Samaritan. The first two ignored the injured man and passed by. The third showed compassion, bandaged his wounds, and took him by donkey to an inn. There, he tended to his injuries and paid the innkeeper to look after him until he returned and could reimburse him for any extra expenses.

Finishing the story, Jesus asked the expert in the law, “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” (Verse 36). Replying, the expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise” (Verse 37).

Go and Do Likewise

We can always justify our behavior but that doesn’t change the fact that as Christians, we are judged by our actions as well as our words. Sometimes, we might feel as if we’re under a microscope. We can wear a cross around our neck, put Christian bumper stickers on our cars, and still exhibit un-Christlike behavior. Yes, we’re human, prone to give in to our carnal nature.

Our carnal natures can only be quelled by surrendering to Christ, reading and studying scripture, attending corporate worship and Bible studies. Even then, it’s a daily surrendering to Him that keeps us in check.

If we find our identity in Christ, our actions will reflect it. As Jesus says in the NIV version of Luke 6:31, “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

I always love hearing from my readers. Please feel free to e-mail me at carol@carolaround.com with your thoughts, or visit my blog for more inspiration at www.carolaround.com. If you need a speaker or workshop leader, you can contact me at the above e-mail or through my website. I’d be delighted to hear from you.

Photo credit: redeemer-charleston.org
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GUEST POST ~ Back to the Future?

GUEST POST ~ Back to the Future?

 

LOOKING TO THE PAST TO MOVE TO THE FUTURE

The early church fascinates me; especially the practices of those Christians who were disciples of people like Paul, Peter, Barnabas, and Timothy–the first century giants of the New Testament who set the foundation for Christian belief and practice. I’m often curious about what their disciples did to carry on the work of the gospel throughout the Roman Empire and, indeed, around the world.


Different Christian authors throughout the history of early Christianity give us a glimpse of how the early disciples continued the work of those New Testament saints. For example, in the fourth century, Eusebius, known as the father of church history, writes about those first-second century disciples, 

Then starting out upon long journeys they performed the office of evangelists, being filled with the desire to preach Christ to those who had not yet heard the word of faith, and to deliver to them the divine Gospels. And when they had only laid the foundations of faith in foreign places, they appointed others as shepherds, and entrusted them with the nurture of those that had recently been brought in, while they themselves went on again to other countries and peoples, with the grace and the co-operation of God. For a great many wonderful works were done through them by the power of the divine Spirit, so that at the first hearing whole multitudes of people eagerly embraced the religion of the Creator of the universe. (H.E. III.37)

This morning of 1 January 2022, I awoke and read from what we today call the Didache. It was well-known from Egypt to Syria in the late first century to early second century as the “Teaching of the Twelve Apostles.” Its short 16 chapters were used as a sort of training manual for the early church. It would not have been a book that the disciples had in their homes, but rather the oral traditions of the apostles read and passed on as believers gathered together. Perhaps most notable in the Didache are the number of direct references to passages from the books of the New Testament.

The church manual begins with ethical instructions (1-6) as well as instructions for ritual practices like baptism and communion (7-10). Chapters 11-13 provide interesting directives for interacting with those who were called teachers, apostles, and prophets of the church. These disciples especially worked itinerantly as they traveled to equip the saints for works of ministry. And the final chapters provide further instructions for corporate worship and church governance as well as encouragement to be watchful for the return of Christ (14-16).

While the Didache is not an authoritative text as it includes some practices that seem strange to the New Testament, it was often included in the regular reading of Scripture. Nevertheless, it does gives us a glimpse into early church practices. A few of the practices that capture my attention are:

  • The frequency in which the church gathers. The manual instructs daily gathering of the saints (4.2; 16.2).
  • Emphasis on fleeing things which are evil (that lead to the path of death) and pursuing the things which are good (that lead to the path of life).
  • Recognition of the sovereignty of God in the face of hardship (3.10).
  • The continuing ministry of what we often call APEST typology given by Jesus and explained by Paul (Eph 4:11-16). 
First, love the God who made you, and second, your neighbor as yourself. And whatever you do not want to happen to you, do not do to another. (Didache 1.2)CLICK TO TWEET

The Didache begins with something that is all too familiar to those of us who are followers of Christ. I thought this passage was a great place to start the new year and want to share it with you:

This then is the path of life. First, love the God who made you, and second, your neighbor as yourself. And whatever you do not want to happen to you, do not do to another. This is the teaching relating to these matters: Bless those who curse you, pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For why is it so great to love those who love you? Do the Gentiles not do this as well? But you should love those who hate you—then you will have no enemies. Abstain from fleshly passions. If anyone slaps your right cheek, turn the other to him as well, and you will be complete. If anyone compels you to go one mile, go with him two. If anyone takes your cloak, give him your shirt as well. If anyone seizes what is yours, do not ask for it back, for you will not be able to get it. Give to everyone who asks, and do not ask for anything back. For the Father wants everyone to be given something from the gracious gifts he himself provides. How fortunate is the one who gives according to the commandment, for his is without fault. (1.2-5)

Happy New Year! I pray that the Lord, our God, will sustain us to stay on the path of life for His glory’s sake in 2022. And, in the words of that early church instruction manual, to “…engage in all your activities as you have learned in the gospel of our Lord” (15.4). Seems to me that this look at the past might be a good reminder as we move to the future.

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GUEST POST ~

GUEST POST ~ Toxic Positivity

 

Kate Bowler, professor of the history of Christianity in North America at Duke Divinity University, is a person I admire but have never met. I came across her account of American “prosperity” Christianity about two year ago. Later I read her book about her experience of dealing with stage four colon cancer. She continues this battle to this day. The realism of Kate’s faith, tested in the fire of suffering, has been a valuable source for me in my struggle with chronic physical challenges for two-plus decades. (You can check out Kate’a work at her webpage: https://katebowler.com).

On her most recent podcast Kate interviewed Harvard professor, Dr. Susan David. The subject was “toxic positivity.” This dialogue helped me see how this toxic teaching has often tripped me up. Let me explain why this matters for the church in America. 

Toxic positivity deprives us of the serious motivation to make healthy changes. We face some massive challenges in the early 21st century. But forms of toxic positivity tell us all we need to do is seek to be more positive and trust God. In so doing this limits our awareness of almost every negative, and uncomfortable, reality that would lead us to make serious changes. It sets us up to judge those we think too negative. It easily leads many Christians to live a life that is set up for massive failure. You hear this when a person says, “We should just trust God and everything will be better.” I often hear Christians say things like: "We should not fear COVID19, the death of our loved ones or the problems of the poor and oppressed. Stop seeking to solve problems and just look for the world to come.” 

Here is a major personal example of what I refer to – a person with toxic positivity will likely return (repeatedly) to an abusive relationship “because I want to just focus on the positive aspects of our relationship and hold out hope that he will change!" Another might run up huge credit card bills on frivolous things because they’re "staying positive" about their future earnings. Some Christians use Scripture to argue that they should give more generously because this will lead to bigger blessings. I could list dozens of examples but you get the picture. 

Make no mistake about this – we do need to have a heart filled with Christ-centered hope. But real Christian hope is not positive thinking. Jesus was filled with hope and suffered immeasurably. If you think you might have been infected with some form(s) of toxic positivity ask questions like these:  Are you afraid of conflict? Do you lack confidence in your problem-solving skills? Do you have a belief that certain emotions like anger are “bad” rather than recognizing that anger is often a healthy indicator that someone may be violating our boundaries? Christians commonly dodge such probing questions. They look for peace, in the wrong place, and end up embracing toxic positivity in new forms. 

I am learning to face each day with hope, not positive energy generated by toxic self-help talk. The way to keep hope alive is to experience divine love leading me to deep joy in all circumstances. Can we find a way to seek joy in our suffering and darkest moments? Jesus did when he became God forsaken on Calvary. Look to him, not to cultural cliches and self-help counsel.

Pax Christi,

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John H. Armstrong
www.theinitiative.org

 

They Initiative will again have an annual meeting at Green Lake (Wisconsin). We plan to gather in person, June 20-23, 2022. Go to the website and make plans now to join us. 

www.theinitiative.org 

I am seriously considering making short YouTube videos again. (I stopped about a year ago to focus on finishing my book, Tear Down These Walls.) Here is how you find my channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjylGCjuuS4rxZIQaic_7pQ

My good friend Steve Crosby put together a video that includes contributions I made to his project several years ago. Finally, after many delays, this film is available. https://youtu.be/MexBtKxtcrw

 
"All things are possible to him who believes . . . they are less difficult for him who hopes . . . more easy for him who loves, and still more easy for him who perseveres in the practice of these three virtues."

Brother Lawrence 
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GIEST POST ~ "Wipe The Slate Clean!"

GUEST POST ~  "Wipe The Slate Clean!"

 

Wipe the slate clean


A new year is an opportunity to wipe the slate clean. 

Dare to dream for more than just a continuation of last year. Don't miss the mindset advantages of a new year to beginning fresh and starting new.

I'm not referring to New Year's resolutions. I'm mean making changes. And January is a great time to make changes. 

I use a basic two-step process:

1. To start new, you have to decide what you want to be different this year. At the beginning of 2021, I wanted to have a different work, family, friends, and life rhythm. I reflected on my, then current, rhythm and what I didn't like about it. Then prayed and thought about how I'd like it to be. About here, in the middle of dreaming, the doubts started speaking up, "You can't do this. You've tried before." Which leads to the second step. 

2. Consider how you're going to change to make it different. Notice I didn't write, "what you're going to do..." It's more than just doing something. You have to change something. Which is more difficult. You have to not do the things that got you your previous result, and instead do other things that will get you your new result.

For my new rhythm this meant not working on the weekends, scheduling time with friends and family, planning activities (not just work) ahead of time, and getting vacations and staycations in the calendar. Did I get the exact rhythm I dreamt of in January? No, but I got about 2/3 the way there, which is much better than the previous year!

I see this "missed the goal, but did way better than before" often when coaching. It's a win!

Go for progress, not perfection. 

 
Grace & Peace, 
--Mo4tGp9ZLponiduYyiY58ozrys3nhG-r_BdBiXqDsiA4buX786V0rs63g9hjz9YsGmLD7ypq1x5WFzBDFHoqoNJ_IB3K_lSGh8bskOL-Hws4sJL_jgZp9c7OAosECgdw4LHYYXIw5vt3G3bV4Y8tI2NtKkG-dE078=s0-d-e1-ft#<a href=
Keith Webb
 
Change your conversations, and your results. The Coaching Mastery Certificate Program will equip you to have more productive conversations with everyone. Coaching conversations, yes, but also conversations with your teammates, direct reports, kids, and friends. I'm not overstating it, just ask anyone who has joined the program.

I'm thankful for the dozens of people I had the privilege of working with this year, and look forward to new plans for 2022!
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GUEST POST ~ Time For A Change

GUEST POST ~ Time For A Change

"Those Who Say It Can't Be Done, 

Should Never Interrupt Those Who Are Doing It!"

Time For A Change

 

Well, we are down to the wire of a new year approaching. Many of us use this time to reflect on the current year we've had, good, bad or indifferent. The majority of us have made many life adjustments during the last couple of years. Sometimes when things are going array in our lives, and it seems complicated to grasp our lives, we think about making changes; however, we wonder when is the right time. The answer is NOW! Many times we make excuses for making changes in our life. We say things like "Only if I had enough time," "When the money is right," "When the pandemic is over," "In the new year," and the infamous answer "One Day..."

 

Sometimes it may look like the goal you want to achieve is unattainable, and we make excuses cause we are scared and unsure of the outcome. Sometimes the goals we set for ourselves are merely indicators of the need for change and help move us in the right direction.

 

If you start on the journey slowly, you have the chance to look around and consider other options as you learn and grow. We have time to examine the underlying values of the desire for change and find ways to manifest those feelings, whether it looks exactly like our initial goal or not. Taking small steps forward gives us time to adjust and find a secure footing on our new path.

 

As you can attest, "time waits for no one." And the one lesson I have learned throughout this whole ordeal is not every bad moment makes for a bad life, and sometimes a challenging moment is simply that. And there can be times when feeling stuck turns out to be a good thing, and especially when it forces us to stop and notice what's happening around us.

 

Life doesn't always allow us to anticipate or prepare for a significant change, and we may find ourselves overwhelmed by what is in front of us, by choosing to move forward in our goals and focusing our attention on our change. Eventually, we will look up to see that we have accomplished quite a bit.  Different results will only be available to you as you make the necessary choices to understand that you are more significant than any current problem. It's time to make that change!  As our fearless leader Dr. Wilkins says, "Welcome To One Day!"

 

By Tammy Montgomery-Doz'ier , SPAA's National Vice President

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GUEST POST ~ Rethink God's "Wrath"

GUEST POST ~ Rethink God's "Wrath"

 

MqZnBOdLdafEvRmyB1BvvR95bYsgAz_dVTmnTuKKArDQJMuwk362RS9-BLJa6-Aa3k3yoE2nh84Sc6_v-OqQHuWVydO1sIC7f-otRCwSlmPwCETjp0n2FmoK-Zeyd7nkVHfRi6Bg1c-IxKto5SBuNN2yjI0cAnR0Cf2ioeo65Xjd91VcdLEGnenpfnXjC2iAq_7WfMQwSxC2-FDe0l8itF1-dNHBOBMsqX78g2Gi1HPj6k6PgaG8J1uullluE495KD50eA=s0-d-e1-ft#<a href=On the coast of Scotland is a cape called Cape Wrath. The name is derived from a Norse word meaning "Turning Point."

It is a formidable natural structure and it does not move to accommodate ships. It has a long history of being a navigational edifice. A wise captain will adjust the ships course accordingly.

Wrath is not the opposite of love. It is a category, expression, and remedy of love applied to restore a state of love.

Wrath is a turning point.

With that assumption, I take Psalm 21, verse by verse.

Psalm 21:1 – O LORD, the king rejoices in your strength. How great is his joy in the victories you give!

The truest and noblest kind of joy is always rooted in who God is and what God does. Human victories are inconsequential. Heavenly victories are sources of great rejoicing because they are divine in origin, eternal in duration, and complete in their perfection. Jesus told the disciples to rejoice, not because the demons were subject to them, but because their names were written in the book of life. Rejoice today in the victories that God is working and, by faith, embrace them.

Psalm 21:2 - You have granted him the desire of his heart and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah

God answers prayer. The words have been spoken so often that they constitute and cliché. However, they remain true in every sense. In the case of this king, the desires of his heart have come to fulfillment and the requests of his lips have been granted. To what extent is your heart moved by God that He can trust you with the desires that originate there? How God-directed are the prayers of your lips that each may be granted with confidence by God? As God to change your desires that you may be more effective at prayer.

Psalm 21:3 - You welcomed him with rich blessings and placed a crown of pure gold on his head.

God’s welcome is a magnificent gift. The king so often received official guests – many begging favors. But when he approached the throne of God, it was as a mere mortal. His testimony is as surprising as our own when we meet the generosity and goodness of God. He is amazed. God, the King of the universe, crowned him! God, the Supreme Master, blessed him! Never stop being astounded by the goodness of God and always give thanks..

Psalm 21:4 – He asked you for life, and you gave it to him-- length of days, for ever and ever.

Life is that gift which God most freely gives. He has given it to every man and woman. Eternal life is a treasure that He offers in the same and greater abundance. And it is always just for the asking. Have you received life from God? If not, you are not yet truly alive. If so, you must live it out. It is too precious to take for granted.

Psalm 21:6 - Surely you have granted him eternal blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence.

How about you? Have you taken stock of the enormous storehouse of eternal blessings you have received from the hand of God? Have you responded with joyful thanksgiving? As we approach month’s end, take time to be specifically thankful and lift up your joyful voice to God the Giver in whose presence you stand.

Psalm 21:7 - For the king trusts in the LORD; through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken.

Trust God. It is the source of life and joy. God’s unfailing love is our stability and confidence. Let not your heart be shaken whatever the circumstances of life. You are encompassed by the goodness and love of God.

Psalm 21:8 - Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies; your right hand will seize your foes.

Trust God to handle His enemies. Let Him fight His own battles and vindicate His own Name. Then let Him have yours as well. He is perfectly capable of handling His business and yours and emerging victorious from any battle. Trust Him!

Psalm 21:9 - At the time of your appearing you will make them like a fiery furnace. In his wrath the LORD will swallow them up, and his fire will consume them.

God’s anger consumes all that wars against His ways and His people. Truth always swallows up lies. Truth makes untruth irrelevant and exalts only the God of truth. To be an enemy of God, one must embrace a lie so tightly and with such adhesion that one is swept away with it. God’s judgment is the process by which He sets all things aright and makes plain what has been distorted. His wrath is not an emotional outburst of a spoiled child, but the energy with which He speaks and restores His reign.

We would be wise to pray for God’s judgment within us that we might be liberated

Psalm 21:10 - You will destroy their descendants from the earth, their posterity from mankind.

Lies perpetuate themselves.

If we are looking at enemies as spiritual forces working inside and all around us, then we recognize that God’s enemies are our enemies – even if they are so intertwined with our personalities and character that we have come to identify them with who we are.

Allow the Word of Truth to pry your soul away from the sin distortion that has erroneously redefined your humanity. Then, cheer as those falsehoods are destroyed and their power to reproduce is obliterated from the face of the earth.

Pray to that end today – ruthlessly. This is about being made free!

Psalm 21:11 – Though they plot evil against you and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed;

If it were not so dead serious, the comedy of God’s enemies plotting and devising wicked schemes against Him would be overwhelming. We smugly decry the audacity and, without making the connection to ourselves, try to “pull the wool over” God’s eyes in our own secret sins.

We cannot succeed.

God knows all, sees all, anticipates all, and always has the last word. He is not shocked by our addictive and destructive behaviors, but He calls us to truth and reason. He enables us to see failure as the inevitable outcome of sin and His way as the only hope for real success.

Get real!

Psalm 21:12 -… for you will make them turn their backs when you aim at them with drawn bow.

Sin cannot face truth.

Test it.

Darkness will turn away from the light. It always retreats. Liars are not prone to confront the evidence that discredits them. They run away. It does not require argument or eloquence to expose falsehood or to disarm God’s enemies and those enemies of our souls that are devouring us from within.

It only requires truth. It is your best medicine in the war for healing from negative “self-image,” destructive thoughts, and corrosive behaviors. Take a dose of truth daily. Chase it with Living Water and be refreshed. Watch sin turn away in fear and defeat.

Psalm 21:13 - Be exalted, O LORD, in your strength; we will sing and praise your might.

If you can pray for the exaltation of God, then you are, at the very core of your being, a friend of God. The enemies within you do not constitute the real you. The sin residing in your soul is not your true nature. You desire the things of God at the very depths of who you are. Build upon that desire with the practice of praise.

Do not allow the satan to torment you with insidious notions like, “You hypocrite! You don’t mean it – I saw you …bla, bla, bla...”

Resist those thoughts and praise God with all your might. The Holy Spirit will activate your spirit and God will fight the enemies within you.

 

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GUEST POST ~ Praying for People Who Do Not Fear Death. But Should.

By Dr. Jim Denison

...a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

As the news constantly reminds us, any of us could die at any time. And yet, if you ask Americans to name their top fears, their personal death ranks surprisingly low. More than half of us either are “not very afraid” (27 percent) or “not at all afraid” (25 percent) of death. Only 11 percent of us are “very afraid” of death, while 31 percent are “somewhat afraid” to die and 7 percent “don’t know.” 

We are more afraid of the way we might die than the fact of our death. In a list of our “top ten fears,” “mass shootings” comes in at #3, followed by “terrorism” at #5 and “becoming terminally ill” at #7. Each points to how we might die rather than the fact of death itself. 

Why are we mortals not more afraid of our mortality? 

The answer is tragically not that we are prepared to meet God. Only 35 percent of American adults believe salvation comes through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. And yet, 54 percent believe they will go to heaven, many of them because they think they have earned their place in paradise through their good works. 

What of the rest? 

  • 15 percent say they don’t know what will happen after they die.
  • 13 percent say there is no life after death.
  • 8 percent expect to be reincarnated.
  • 8 percent believe they will go to a place of purification prior to entering heaven.
  • Just 2 percent believe they will go to hell.

“I don’t believe in the queen of England” 

I remember a day when an intense fear of hell was commonplace. Even though our family never attended church before I heard the gospel at the age of fifteen, I have strong memories of fearing what would happen to me if I died. Evangelists and pastors could present the “plan of salvation” in the knowledge that most who heard them wanted to know and then follow that “plan.” 

However, one of the many ways Satan is using the postmodern denial of objective truth is to convince millions that their opinion of the afterlife determines the afterlife they will experience. A man once confidently told me “I don’t believe in hell” as if that changed the existence of hell. 

We would not make this assumption in any other dimension of reality. Imagine your response if I assured you that the queen of England does not exist because I don’t believe in her existence. On the contrary, we know that denying reality typically harms us far more than it helps us, as when a doctor tells us we have cancer or the meteorologist warns of severe weather. 

But “the natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Corinthians 2:14). This is because “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4). 

Unlike those who are directionally lost and stop for directions, most who are spiritually lost don’t know they are lost. If Satan has his way, they will persist in this condition until it is too late. 

Four empowering prayers 

What can we do to help them? 

I doubt your first response is to inform them that they are lost and destined for hell. If a Muslim told you that you would go to hell unless you converted to Islam, would this make you more or less interested in his faith? While lost people definitely need to know their peril and need for salvation, four preceding steps can make this news much more effective. 

1. Ask God to make our lives consistent with our message (cf. Romans 12:1–2). 

People are far more likely to believe our faith is relevant to them when it is obviously relevant to us. 

2. Ask our Father to give us his love for the lost. 

We will risk anything for those we love. When we love others as Jesus loves us (cf. John 13:34–35), our words will be empowered and inspired by compassion and grace. While no one wants to be told they are wrong and we are right, everyone wants to be loved. 

3. Ask the Spirit to lead us to those he has prepared for our witness. 

He is actively cultivating the minds and hearts of the lost to hear the good news of God’s grace. He is thus preparing someone specifically for your compassionate witness today. 

4. Ask the Spirit to inspire your words and actions. 

He knows just what this person needs to hear and see from you. If you submit to the Spirit each day (Ephesians 5:18), even when facing skeptics and critics, your words will be God’s words because “it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:20). 

If we will make these four requests of our Lord every day, our lives and our witness will be transformed. We will know Jesus and make him known with passion and compassion out of the overflow of his Spirit in our hearts. 

The late Senate chaplain Richard Halverson noted, “New Testament Christians did not witness because they had to but because they could not help it.” 

Will you join them today?

NOTE: For more practical advice on being used by the Spirit, please see my latest personal blog, “Going barefoot in winter.”

Original posting >>>

 

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GUEST POST~ How Your Worldview Affects How You Make Disciples

Worldview Discipleship

By Freddy Davis

In years past, in America, Christians could easily get away with a superficial understanding of their faith because it was pretty rare that anyone would challenge their beliefs. That was a time when most people actually went to church, at least on Easter and Christmas, when schools would not schedule sporting events on Wednesday evenings because that was prayer meeting night, when school children prayed The Lord’s Prayer at the beginning of the school day, and when being a member of a church was a good look for one’s business. In those days, it was pretty much assumed that people believed in God, and if someone came out as an Atheist, it was considered socially scandalous.

 

Of course, even in those days, not everyone was a Christian – even those who self-identified that way. A lot of people who did go to church only did it for show, or because that was their tradition. While they might not have had other scheduled events on Wednesdays, they, themselves, never went to prayer meeting. While the children may have repeated The Lord’s Prayer at school, many, if not most, didn’t really pray it sincerely – it was just a tradition repeated by rote. And many of the business people who were active in church really did view it as a means for making a good impression on people, and networking to promote their business. Yeah, those might have seemed like the “good ol days” for the church on a superficial level, but in some ways the church was a mile wide and an inch deep.

 

So how is it different today? Well, it’s different in a very profound way. In modern society, the script has, in many places, been completely flipped. Now, many people consider it scandalous to be associated with a church, church activities are not considered at all when schools schedule sporting, and other, events, it is against the law to have a school sanctioned prayer, and church is not considered to be a reputation enhancer for business. And, on top of that, it is not unusual at all for people to openly challenge the beliefs of Christians.

 

While in the past, a superficial understanding of one’s Christian faith may have been sufficient in order to successfully navigate local society, in many places that is just not the case anymore. In fact, for people who actually do want to live out their Christian faith, it is not even enough to simply know what we believe – even at a deeper level. If we want to be able to stand upright in the radical anti-Christian society that currently exists, we not only need to know what we believe, but why what we believe is the truth. But even that is not enough in many cases. We even need to know why the beliefs of those coming against us is NOT the truth.

 

So how do we do that? We do it by understanding worldview concepts, and by using those concepts to understand our own faith and the faith of those who oppose us.

 

What is Worldview?

So just what is a worldview? The quick formal definition is that a worldview is the assumptions people make about the nature of reality. That is, it is a set of beliefs that define for an individual what they consider to be real vs. what they consider to be fantasy. Now that is an easy definition to quote, but the depth and significance of the definition needs to be pondered a bit for it to truly hit home in our lives.

 

Interestingly, most people’s worldview beliefs are assumed to the degree that they are totally unconscious. After all, if a person considers certain particular beliefs to be fantasy, it is not even worth the time to give deep thought to them at all. People consider their own worldview beliefs to be true – just because they are true.

 

For example, as a Christian, you believe in God. The idea that someone would say they don’t believe in God seems rather senseless – a fantasy. It seems that way because your experience, at the most foundational level, has brought you to the place where you believe. You have met Christ and interact personally with God in your spiritual life. Many Christians reason that, “Yeah, they say they don’t believe in God, but just wait until a serious crisis hits ....”

 

But here’s the kicker, those Atheists have the same sense of assurance that God does not exist that you have that he does. They look at your belief in God as a fantasy. Very few have ever considered why they believe that way. It is just that, to them, the idea of God simply doesn’t make sense.

 

So a worldview is a set of assumptions that people hold, generally at an unconscious level, that helps them organize their thoughts about what is real and what is fantasy.

 

How Do We Recognize a Worldview?

The next question relates to where a person’s worldview comes from. And there are actually three different possibilities.

 

•Circumstances

The first possibility relates to the environment a person was raised in. Every person has been raised by people who, themselves, held some set of worldview beliefs. Those beliefs were simply assumed to be true, and they taught them to their children by word and by deed without even realizing they were doing so. A social environment just is what it is, and those raised in it just pick it up. It’s never questioned because children don’t know enough to question them.

 

•Conversion

The second place a worldview can come from is by conversion. At some point in life, most people will come face-to-face with an opposing worldview. In many cases, the beliefs they were raised in are strong enough that the conflicting worldview beliefs are merely seen as fantasy – nonsensical.

 

But some people encountering those new beliefs are challenged by them – they somehow make sense. When that happens, it shakes them to the core, because if those new beliefs are true, that means their previous understanding of reality is a lie.

 

This is what happens when a person comes face-to-face with the realization that God is a real person that they can know in an objectively real personal relationship, and they invite Christ into their life. It is a conversion experience. It also sometimes happens the other way around. When a person who was raised in a Christian home is taught the Theory of Evolution in school, for instance, and it somehow ends up making makes more sense to them than the belief that God created life, they will convert to Atheism. The shock of the new belief is such that they change their understanding of reality and convert to believing a different narrative.

 

•Choice

The third place a worldview belief can come from is choice. Since most people’s worldview beliefs are completely unconscious, there is not a conscious choice to be made. But if a person comes to a place where they actually study worldview concepts and learn the various possibilities, it is then possible to analyze those possibilities and choose the one that seems to best match up with what they experience as reality. This is probably the least common way people come to their worldview beliefs because so few people actually ever study worldview concepts.

 

What Are the Implications of Thinking in Worldview Terms?

It is important to understand that grasping worldview concepts is not simply an academic exercise. There are very real and practical implications in these concepts that relate to real life. These implications not only affect our understanding, but also the way we think about our own, and other people’s, beliefs, and the way we interact with other people. There are five primary areas where the practical implications of worldview knowledge come into play.

 

1. It Defines the Essential Elements of the Christian Faith

We are all aware that there is a lot of variety within the Christian faith. Sadly, this variety accounts for much of the division we see within the Christian community. The variety, in and of itself, is not necessarily a bad thing, but it becomes a problem when people who hold certain theological views are not willing to accept those who hold differing views.

 

At this point there is a certain distinction that needs to be made. Not all beliefs within the Christian faith are equal. There are certain beliefs that are essential and others that are not essential.

 

The essential ones actually define the outer boundaries of the faith itself. Those who hold to beliefs that are outside of the essentials are actually outside of the Christian faith. Those essential beliefs relate to what the Bible teaches about God, man, and salvation. We get at these beliefs by answering three questions:

1. Who is God?

2. What is man?

3. What is salvation and how do we achieve it?

 

The non-essential beliefs relate to other doctrines such as what one believes about baptism, predestination, eschatology (last things), and the like. Note, it is not that these other doctrines are not important. They actually are. But they are not important to the extent that they affect whether or not one is legitimately a Christian. A person can even have absolutely wrong beliefs about these non-essential things and still be within the family of believers.

 

Having a firm grasp on what the Bible teaches about God, man, and salvation provides Christians with the absolute essential core elements of the faith. This is the starting point for being able to use worldview knowledge in ways that strengthen our Christian faith.

 

2. It Defines the Essential Elements of Other Faith Systems

The essential beliefs that were referred to in the previous section also have an important part to play in our understanding of other, non-Christian, belief systems. In fact, every belief system in existence has some way that it answers the three essential questions about God, man, and salvation. The answer to these three questions based on the beliefs of any given belief system, defines it’s essential core beliefs. Having that information allows us to understand other beliefs, and gives us a tool to analyze them for truth.

 

3. It Defines the Core of the Gospel Message

There is a third value for understanding a worldview paradigm when it comes to expressing our Christian faith out in the world. As it turns out, not only does knowing the biblical answers to the three essential worldview questions help us understand the core essentials of our Christian faith, it also provides us with the information we need to share our faith. In fact, the biblical answers to the three questions comprise the Christian plan of salvation. We are sharing the gospel message when we share with a non-believer how the Bible answers those three questions.

 

4. It Can Be Used as a Means of Bible Study

Another value of understanding the worldview paradigm is that it helps us focus in on the essential elements of biblical faith as we read the Bible. There are a lot of topics that are addressed in the Bible, and it is possible to discern various doctrines from the biblical text as we read it. Proper biblical interpretation would have us search the entire Bible to see what it says on particular topics, and that gives us the whole counsel of Scripture on those topics. More importantly, as we study the Bible, if we read with a view to how particular passages and verses answer the three essential questions, we have a way of studying the Bible that keeps us focused on the essential core of the Bible’s message.

 

5. It Can Be Used in Incursion Apologetics to Break down Non-biblical Beliefs

One other value in understanding the worldview paradigm is that it gives Christians the tools to stand strong against those who try to attack the Christian faith. These days, many people, particularly those who hold a naturalistic worldview, are not content to merely believe something different, they want to destroy Christians to the greatest degree possible. To do that, they use all kinds of arguments and tactics – from questioning the validity of the Bible’s message, to condemning the beliefs and values of Christianity, to asserting that the Bible has been accurately preserved through the centuries, and others.

 

When people become antagonistic like that, it is generally not sufficient to merely answer their taunts. Rather, one must actually question the validity of the attack itself. The use of a worldview paradigm to understand the beliefs and weaknesses of an attacker is extremely valuable in pulling off that kind of response. When we know what other people believe and why what they believe is not true, we are in a position to make them justify their attack before being required to answer them. This approach also puts us in a position to express the truth of the gospel message and share a Christian witness to them.

 

What Does a Church Need to Do to Prepare its People?

In these days, false beliefs are ubiquitous – that is, there are scores of different false beliefs that are prominent in the public square. So how can a church help its people deal with this issue – not only for helping them discern between true and false beliefs, but also help them become able to share an effective Christian witness in this complicated societal soup?

 

The key is to do what the Bible teaches in Ephesians 4:11-13 – to equip the saints for the work of ministry. We should not abandon the ministry that is already being done, but at the same time an increased emphasis must be placed on Christian discipleship efforts. And a special emphasis needs to be placed on biblical worldview training.

 

Make no mistake about it, this is much easier said than done. People get settled into their regular routines in all areas of life – including church life. But unless this new emphasis is intentionally implemented, Christians will continue falling further and further behind. We need to be equipped!

 

 

MarketFaith Ministries exists to equip Christians to become more knowledgeable of and confident in their Christian faith by providing worldview training. We have resources to help individuals as well as the ability to train congregations to stand strong for Christ in our rapidly declining society. Contact us today at 850-383-9756 or info@marketfaith.org and let’s discuss how to bring this cutting edge training to you. Also, be sure and check out the free worldview training resources as well as those available for purchase on the MarketFaith Ministries website at www.marketfaith.org.

 

Reprinted from Worldview Made Practical; a free e-zine produced by MarketFaith Ministries featuring practical teaching and life tools to help Christians become more effective in their faith life. Discover MarketFaith Ministries at www.marketfaith.org. 

***Related article: The Danger of A Homogeneous Blindspot by Phil Miglioratti

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GUEST POST~ Discipleship Principles vs. Methodology

New blog post from Bob Logan

Methods, approaches, and styles change over time. Different strategies work in different seasons. Trends in ministry come and go. Yet I wonder: among all the change, what stays the same? As the culture shifts and changes around us, what proven principles remain firm and reliable? Applying those principles to discipleship methodologies can help your church grow more and better disciples. So, what are discipleship principles?

“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever.” —Isaiah 40:8

6 Principles of Discipleship

When you study the way Christ discipled his followers, a pattern emerges. He applied different methods but the heart and purpose—the principles—behind the method is consistent. These are the principles behind discipleship:

     1.Discipleship is personal. It’s always tailored and customized to the individual and their own unique journey of growth. Their path of discipleship must fit them… otherwise it’s like David in Saul’s armor. 

     2.Discipleship is relational. It’s always done in connection with other people: never alone. One can never disciple oneself. 

     3.Discipleship is intentional. It’s never accidental, but on-purpose. There is a direction and flow of energy in that direction: toward fullness in Christ. 

     4.Discipleship is consistent. It’s constant over time, not one-and-done. “A long obedience in the same direction,” as Eugene Peterson put it. 

     5.Discipleship is Spirit-led. The Holy Spirit must lead the process because we don’t know ahead of time where he wants to take us or what specifically he wants us to do. There is no prefab template to follow; what we need to follow is the in-the-moment leading of the Holy Spirit. 

     6.Discipleship is outcome-focused. Obedience takes precedence over knowledge as we move more and more towards forming the character of Christ and the following the mission of Christ. What matters is what we do with it. 

    Consider: can you find any exceptions? Any instances in which the above items were not an essential component of discipleship?

Methodologies Measured by Principles

Principles never change. Methods can and should change. If you are doing discipleship the way it’s always been done or you are not experiencing growth, it’s time to take a hard look at effectiveness of your discipleship methods. People change. Cultures change. Context changes. If you are serious about living out the Great Commission, you have to ensure your discipleship methods are effectively reaching your community.

Take an honest look at your current discipleship methodologies by holding them up to the timeless principles. Here are some examples of low, average, and high effectiveness in each principle. Where does your discipleship program land?

Discipleship is personal.

•(L) If people are involved in our ministries we assume that they are growing as disciples.

•(A) We have a linear discipleship program. Everyone starts in the same place and follows the same path.

•(H) We meet people where they are at and help them determine and take their next best step toward Jesus.

Discipleship is relational.

•(L) We don’t have intentional, personal discipleship conversations.

•(A) We have some mature Christians who meet one-on-one to disciple others.

•(H) Our congregants have healthy relationships inside and outside of the church. People are growing as disciples while making more disciples.

Discipleship is intentional.

•(L) We seek to address discipleship needs through sermons and curriculum.

•(A) A high percentage of our people attend a small group.

•(H) We equip people to discern and live into their gifts and calling.

Discipleship is consistent.

•(L) Discipleship relationships tend to fall apart without ongoing staff involvement.

•(A) Our church has rhythms for classes and small groups that address discipleship.

•(H) We continually help people engage in their spiritual formation and build redemptive relationships.

Discipleship is Spirit-led.

•(L) We stick to a curriculum based approach to discipleship.

•(A) When the Spirit provides a word that directly speaks to someone we don’t follow up on it.

•(H) We discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit and maintain focus until the vision becomes reality.

Discipleship is outcome-focused.

•(L) Church is a come and see model. We provide solid biblical teaching for those who enter our doors.

•(A) We have a solid mission statement but only a few are actively engaged pursuing that mission.

•(H) We have stated goals and objectives that relate directly to the Great Commandments and Great Commission. We regularly assess our methodologies and adapt them for greater effectiveness.

Principle-based Discipleship Programs

Where did you come out? A good way to check your answers is to measure the overall fruit produced. If you landed on the Low side, your church has likely plateaued or even experiencing slow decline. If you determined you are Average, you likely have a solid core group of people who are close to one another. Growth is slow and mostly church transfers. However, if you are seeing new people come to Christ and people are experiencing lasting transformation, it’s safe to confirm you are indeed on the High end of discipleship programming.

Wherever you land, it’s always good to make sure your methods—and your people—are solidly formed in discipleship principles.

In what ways can you ensure that each of the principles listed above remains present and central in the discipleship process used by your ministry? What methods or trends are you including in your discipleship process are no longer working? How can you better connect them to the discipleship principles?

Resources

The Discipleship Difference– Are you frustrated with your discipleship efforts? Are you noticing an imbalance between personal growth as a disciple and passing it on? The Discipleship Difference lays out an intentional, holistic, and relational approach to discipleship. It is simple in structure and flexible enough to meet each person wherever they are and help them take their next best step in their relationship with God.

Guide for Discipling- Ready for serious growth as a disciple of Christ? This scripture-based guide will challenge you to take the next steps. This nonlinear guide is great for personal study but better done in community with others. Grab a couple of people to walk through this guide together to experience transformation. Available for the LutheranVineyard, and Episcopal church cultures as well.

The post Discipleship Principles vs. Methodology appeared first on Logan Leadership.

 Copyright © 2022 Robert E. Logan, All rights reserved.

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Happy 2022!
 
Good Questions allow the one asking to find out something they did not know!
 
Great Questions allow the one being asked to discover things about themselves that they were unaware of! 
 
Below are 365 Great Questions for you to ask others and yourself throughout 2022  to discover things you were previously unaware of!  Yes - a question for every day of the year.
 
I recently heard from a friend who shared that she and one of her friends connect for a quick phone call daily to ask each other the question for that day!  Other than discussing the usual topics of weather and family and what's on their schedule for the day, these questions allow both of them to discover new things about themselves and each other that they were previously unaware of!
 
Ministry is really about relationship!  A quote I love by Andrew Sobel says, "Telling creates resistance!  Asking creates relationship!"   Here is a steady supply of questions that will allow you to build relationships with the new acquaintances that God puts in your path and will allow you to deepen relationships with those you are already connected to! 
 
After you have had the opportunity to take a quick look at all 365 - I would love to know the Top 10 Questions you have identified from the whole list!  You can simply type the number of the question in the "Comment Section" below​.
 
Here are some that allow me to reexamine and rethink​:​ 7, 30, 71, 185, 209, 326 and 358.
 
Love in Christ,
Bob Tiede
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Leadership Development Team  /  Cru
bob.tiede@cru.org   /   214-213-2179
LeadingWithQuestions.com   /   339QuestionsJesusAsked.com
Happy 2022!
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365 Thought Provoking Questions to Ask Yourself and Others in 2022CeScgR6kd76Y6CBJ_V8H_frJDnscdqwcjqjvC4mnx1nuEWpVz5NvCudUavLuLjxKU_F7gVes53_dzuXRo65Yxf_uvMNrbL0NByp1hwVY3ZgZI7ypHJ_RAToHxwVOMJGPicjw3dacYUj7FPyB6twKyag97aE3fg=s0-d-e1-ft#<a href=

Guest Post by Marc and Angel Chernoff

 

Happy 2022!


       "Asking the right questions is the answer.”

That’s the tagline at the top of our sister site Thought Questions.  The site thrives on the philosophy that a question that makes you think is worth asking.  So we’ve made a ritual of asking one new thought provoking question every day for our visitors to ponder and answer.

Over the past years we have received countless requests to compile all the questions and place them on a single page that can be easily printed and reviewed.  So here it is.  A whole year’s worth of thought provoking questions to get your mind moving.

  1. When was the last time you tried something new?
  2. Who do you sometimes compare yourself to?
  3. What’s the most sensible thing you’ve ever heard someone say?
  4. What gets you excited about life?
  5. What life lesson did you learn the hard way?
  6. What do you wish you spent more time doing five years ago?
  7. Do you ask enough questions or do you settle for what you know?
  8. Who do you love and what are you doing about it?
  9. What’s a belief that you hold with which many people disagree?
  10. What can you do today that you were not capable of a year ago?
  11. Do you think crying is a sign of weakness or strength?
  12. What would you do differently if you knew nobody would judge you?
  13. Do you celebrate the things you do have?
  14. What is the difference between living and existing?
  15. If not now, then when?
  16. Have you done anything lately worth remembering?
  17. What does your joy look like today?
  18. Is it possible to lie without saying a word?
  19. If you had a friend who spoke to you in the same way that you sometimes speak to yourself, how long would you allow this person to be your friend?
  20. Which activities make you lose track of time?
  21. If you had to teach something, what would you teach?
  22. What would you regret not fully doing, being or having in your life?
  23. Are you holding onto something that you need to let go of?
  24. When you are 80-years-old, what will matter to you the most?
  25. When is it time to stop calculating risk and rewards and just do what you know is right?
  26. How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you are?
  27. Would you break the law to save a loved one?
  28. What makes you smile?
  29. When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
  30. If you had the opportunity to get a message across to a large group of people, what would your message be?
  31. If the average human lifespan was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
  32. What do we all have in common besides our genes that makes us human?
  33. If you could choose one book as a mandatory read for all high school students, which book would you choose?
  34. Would you rather have less work or more work you actually enjoy doing?
  35. What is important enough to go to war over?
  36. Which is worse, failing or never trying?
  37. When was the last time you listened to the sound of your own breathing?
  38. What’s something you know you do differently than most people?
  39. What does ‘The American Dream’ mean to you?
  40. Would you rather be a worried genius or a joyful simpleton?
  41. If you could instill one piece of advice in a newborn baby’s mind, what advice would you give?
  42. What is the most desirable trait another person can possess?
  43. What are you most grateful for?
  44. Is stealing to feed a starving child wrong?
  45. What do you want most?
  46. Are you more worried about doing things right, or doing the right things?
  47. What has life taught you recently?
  48. What is the one thing you would most like to change about the world?
  49. Where do you find inspiration?
  50. Can you describe your life in a six word sentence?
  51. If we learn from our mistakes, why are we always so afraid to make a mistake?
  52. What impact do you want to leave on the world?
  53. What is the most defining moment of your life thus far?
  54. In the haste of your daily life, what are you not seeing?
  55. If life is so short, why do we do so many things we don’t like and like so many things we don’t do?
  56. What lifts your spirits when life gets you down?
  57. Have you ever regretted something you did not say or do?
  58. Has your greatest fear ever come true?
  59. Why do we think of others the most when they’re gone?
  60. What is your most beloved childhood memory?
  61. Is it more important to love or be loved?
  62. If it all came back around to you, would it help you or hurt you?
  63. If you had the chance to go back in time and change one thing would you do it?
  64. If a doctor gave you five years to live, what would you try to accomplish?
  65. What is the difference between falling in love and being in love?
  66. Who do you think stands between you and happiness?
  67. What is the difference between innocence and ignorance?
  68. What is the simplest truth you can express in words?
  69. What gives your life meaning?
  70. Can there be happiness without sadness?  Pleasure without pain?  Peace without war?
  71. What’s the one thing you’d like others to remember about you at the end of your life?
  72. Is there such a thing as perfect?
  73. To what degree have you actually controlled the course your life has taken?
  74. What does it mean to be human?
  75. If you looked into the heart of your enemy, what do you think you would find that is different from what is in your own heart?
  76. What do you love most about yourself?
  77. Where would you most like to go and why?
  78. Is it more important to do what you love or to love what you are doing?
  79. What do you imagine yourself doing ten years from now?
  80. What small act of kindness were you once shown that you will never forget?
  81. What is your happiest childhood memory?  What makes it so special?
  82. Do you own your things or do your things own you?
  83. Would you rather lose all of your old memories or never be able to make new ones?
  84. How do you deal with someone in a position of power who wants you to fail?
  85. What do you have that you cannot live without?
  86. When you close your eyes what do you see?
  87. What sustains you on a daily basis?
  88. What are your top five personal values?
  89. Why must you love someone enough to let them go?
  90. Do you ever celebrate the green lights?
  91. What personal prisons have you built out of fears?
  92. What one thing have you not done that you really want to do?
  93. Why are you, you?
  94. If you haven’t achieved it yet what do you have to lose?
  95. What three words would you use to describe the last three months of your life?
  96. Is it ever right to do the wrong thing?  Is it ever wrong to do the right thing?
  97. How would you describe ‘freedom’ in your own words?
  98. What is the most important thing you could do right now in your personal life?
  99. If you could ask one person, alive or dead, only one question, who would you ask and what would you ask?
  100. If happiness was the national currency, what kind of work would make you rich?
  101. What is your number one goal for the next six months?
  102. Would you ever give up your life to save someone else?
  103. Are you happy with yourself?
  104. What is the meaning of ‘peace’ to you?
  105. What are three moral rules you will never break?
  106. What does it mean to allow another person to truly love you?
  107. Who or what do you think of when you think of love?
  108. If your life was a novel, what would be the title and how would your story end?
  109. What would you not give up for $1,000,000 in cash?
  110. When do you feel most like yourself?
  111. When you help someone do you ever think, “What’s in it for me?”
  112. What is your greatest challenge?
  113. How do you know when it’s time to continue holding on or time to let go?
  114. How do you define success?
  115. If someone could tell you the exact day and time you are going to die, would you want them to tell you?
  116. If I could grant you one wish what would you wish for?
  117. What have you read online recently that inspired you?
  118. Why do religions that advocate unity divide the human race?
  119. If you could live one day of your life over again, what day would you choose?
  120. What can money not buy?
  121. If you left this life tomorrow, how would you be remembered?
  122. Beyond the titles that others have given you, who are you?
  123. If you could live the next 24 hours and then erase it and start over just once, what would you do?
  124. Is it possible to know the truth without challenging it first?
  125. What word best describes the way you’ve spent the last month of your life?
  126. What makes everyone smile?
  127. What do you owe yourself?
  128. What would your ‘priceless’ Mastercard-style commercial be?
  129. Can you think of a time when impossible became possible?
  130. Why do you matter?
  131. How have you changed in the last five years?
  132. What are you sure of in your life?
  133. When you think of ‘home,’ what, specifically, do you think of?
  134. What’s the difference between settling for things and accepting the way things are?
  135. How many of your friends would you trust with your life?
  136. What’s your definition of heaven?
  137. What is your most prized possession?
  138. How would you describe yourself in one sentence?
  139. What stands between you and happiness?
  140. What makes a person beautiful?
  141. Is there ever a time when giving up makes sense?
  142. What makes you proud?
  143. How do you find the strength to do what you know in your heart is right?
  144. Where do you find peace?
  145. When have you worked hard and loved every minute of it?
  146. How short would your life have to be before you would start living differently today?
  147. Is it better to have loved and lost or to have never loved at all?
  148. What would you do if you made a mistake and somebody died?
  149. Who do you trust and why?
  150. If you were forced to eliminate every physical possession from your life with the exception of what could fit into a single backpack, what would you put in it?
  151. When does silence convey more meaning than words?
  152. How do you spend the majority of your free time?
  153. Who do you think of first when you think of ‘success?’
  154. What did you want to be when you grew up?
  155. How will today matter in five years from now?
  156. How have you helped someone else recently?
  157. What is your greatest skill?
  158. Do you see to believe or believe to see?
  159. How are you pursuing your dreams right now?
  160. What’s the next big step you need to take?
  161. If today was the last day of your life, would you want to do what you are about to do today?
  162. If today was the last day of your life, who would you call and what would you tell them?
  163. Who do you dream about?
  164. What do you have trouble seeing clearly in your mind?
  165. What are you looking forward to?
  166. What is the number one thing you want to accomplish before you die?
  167. When is love a weakness?
  168. What has been the most terrifying moment of your life thus far?
  169. Who is the strongest person you know?
  170. If you could take a single photograph of your life, what would it look like?
  171. Is the reward worth the risk?
  172. For you personally, what makes today worth living?
  173. What have you done in the last year that makes you proud?
  174. What did you learn recently that changed the way you live?
  175. What is your fondest memory from the past three years?
  176. What are the primary components of a happy life?
  177. How would the world be different if you were never born?
  178. What is your favorite song and why?
  179. With the resources you have right now, what can you do to bring yourself closer to your goal?
  180. What are your top three priorities?
  181. Why do we idolize sports players?
  182. What is the nicest thing someone has ever done for you?
  183. What do you see when you look into the future?
  184. What makes you angry?  Why?
  185. What is the most valuable life lesson you learned from your parents?
  186. What does love feel like?
  187. What are your favorite simple pleasures?
  188. If you could go back in time and tell a younger version of yourself one thing, what would you tell?
  189. What do you do to deliberately impress others?
  190. What will you never do?
  191. Excluding romantic relationships, who do you love?
  192. What is your earliest childhood memory?
  193. What book has had the greatest influence on your life?
  194. What three questions do you wish you knew the answers to?
  195. What is the greatest peer pressure you’ve ever felt?
  196. What’s the biggest lie you once believed was true?
  197. In your lifetime, what have you done that hurt someone else?
  198. What’s the best part of growing older?
  199. What’s been on your mind most lately?
  200. What do you think is worth waiting for?
  201. What chances do you wish you had taken?
  202. Where else would you like to live?  Why?
  203. What motivates you to go to work each day?
  204. What do you wish you had done differently?
  205. What is your greatest strength and your greatest weakness?
  206. When was the last time you lied?  What did you lie about?
  207. What made you smile this week?
  208. What do you do with the majority of your money?
  209. What motivates you to be your best?
  210. When was the last time you lost your temper?  About what?
  211. What will you never give up on?
  212. When you look into the past, what do you miss the most?
  213. How would you describe the past year of your life in one sentence?
  214. What is the most spontaneous thing you’ve ever done?
  215. What makes you uncomfortable?
  216. If you had to move 3000 miles away, what one thing would you miss the most?
  217. What worries you about the future?
  218. What one ‘need’ and one ‘want’ will you strive to achieve in the next twelve months?
  219. What life lessons did you have to experience firsthand before you fully understood them?
  220. Do you like the city or town you live in?  Why or why not?
  221. What’s the best part of being you?
  222. When you look back over the past month, what single moment stands out?
  223. What do you do to relieve stress?
  224. What is your happiest memory?
  225. What is your saddest memory?
  226. What would you like to change?
  227. How many people do you love?
  228. What’s the best decision you’ve ever made?
  229. What’s your favorite true story that you enjoy sharing with others?
  230. Right now, at this moment, what do you want most?
  231. What are you waiting for?  How are you writing your life’s story?
  232. What makes love last?
  233. What good comes from suffering?
  234. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the last year?
  235. Based on you current daily actions and routines, where would you expect to be in five years?
  236. What was your last major accomplishment?
  237. Through all of life’s twists and turns who has been there for you?
  238. What or who has been distracting you?
  239. What are you looking forward to in the upcoming week?
  240. Who is your mentor and what have you learned from them?
  241. What are you uncertain about?
  242. What do you think about when you lie awake in bed?
  243. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
  244. When you have a random hour of free time, what do you usually do?
  245. What makes you weird?
  246. If you could relive yesterday what would you do differently?
  247. What do you do over and over again that you hate doing?
  248. Would you rather your child be less attractive and extremely intelligent or extremely attractive and less intelligent?
  249. What white lies do you often tell?
  250. What is the biggest change you have made in your life in the last year?
  251. What do you understand today about your life that you did not understand a year ago?
  252. Whose life have you had the greatest impact on?
  253. What did life teach you yesterday?
  254. Who impresses you?
  255. What have you done that you are not proud of?
  256. When should you reveal a secret that you promised you wouldn’t reveal?
  257. How would you spend your ideal day?
  258. What is the one primary quality you look for in a significant other?
  259. What do you admire most about your mother and father?
  260. What is the best advice you have ever received?
  261. If you could live forever, would you want to?  Why?
  262. If you had to be someone else for one day, who would you be and why?
  263. What positive changes have you made in your life recently?
  264. Who makes you feel good about yourself?
  265. What is your biggest regret?
  266. Which one of your responsibilities do you wish you could get rid of?
  267. What’s something you don’t like to do that you are still really good at?
  268. What type of person angers you the most?
  269. What is missing in your life?
  270. What is your most striking physical attribute?
  271. What has fear of failure stopped you from doing?
  272. Who would you like to please the most?
  273. If you could go back in time and change things, what would you change about the week that just passed?
  274. When you meet someone for the very first time what do you want them to think about you?
  275. Who would you like to forgive?
  276. At what point during the last five years have you felt lost and alone?
  277. What is one opportunity you believe you missed out on when you were younger?
  278. What do you want more of in your life?
  279. What do you want less of in your life?
  280. Who depends on you?
  281. Who has had the greatest impact on your life?
  282. Are you happy with where you are in your life?  Why?
  283. In one year from today, how do you think your life will be different?
  284. How have you sabotaged yourself in the past five years?
  285. Other than money, what else have you gained from your current job?
  286. Whom do you secretly envy?  Why?
  287. In twenty years, what do you want to remember?
  288. What are you most excited about in your life right now – today?
  289. What experience from this past year do you appreciate the most?
  290. What is the most enjoyable thing your family has done together in the last three years?
  291. How many hours of television do you watch in a week?  A month?  A year?
  292. What is the biggest obstacle that stands in your way right now?
  293. What do you sometimes pretend you understand that you really don’t?
  294. What do you like most about your job?  What do you dislike most about your job?
  295. What’s something new you recently learned about yourself?
  296. In one sentence, how would you describe your relationship with your mother?
  297. What was the most defining moment in your life during this past year?
  298. What’s the number one change you need to make in your life in the next twelve months?
  299. What makes you feel secure?
  300. What is your favorite sound?
  301. What are the top three qualities you look for in a friend?
  302. What simple gesture have you recently witnessed that renewed your hope in humanity?
  303. What is your favorite smell?
  304. What recent memory makes you smile the most?
  305. In one word, how would you describe your childhood?
  306. What celebrities do you admire?  Why?
  307. What is the number one motivator in your life right now?
  308. What music do you listen to to lift your spirits when you’re feeling down?
  309. If I gave you $1000 and told you that you had to spend it today, what would you buy?
  310. What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud?
  311. What is your biggest pet peeve?
  312. Who was the last person you said “I love you” to?
  313. What is your biggest phobia?
  314. What are some recent compliments you’ve received?
  315. How many friends do you have in real life that you talk to regularly?
  316. How much money per month is enough for you to live comfortably?
  317. When was your first impression of someone totally wrong?
  318. How many hours a week do you spend online?
  319. What do you love to do?
  320. What specific character trait do you want to be known for?
  321. Are you more like your mom or your dad?  In what way?
  322. What is the number one quality that makes someone a good leader?
  323. What bad habits do you want to break?
  324. What is your favorite place on Earth?
  325. What do you love to practice?
  326. What questions do you often ask yourself?
  327. What are you an expert at?
  328. How would an extra $1000 a month change your life?
  329. What things in life should always be free?
  330. What is your favorite time of the year?
  331. What is something you have always wanted since you were a kid?
  332. What is the most recent dream you remember having while sleeping?
  333. What confuses you?
  334. In what way are you your own worst enemy?
  335. When did you not speak up when you should have?
  336. What is your favorite quote?
  337. What is your favorite fictional story?  (novel, movie, fairytale, etc.)
  338. Where or who do you turn to when you need good advice?
  339. What artistic medium do you use to express yourself?
  340. Who or what is the greatest enemy of mankind?
  341. What’s something you wish you had done earlier in life?
  342. What is the closest you have ever come to fearing for your life?
  343. How do you deal with isolation and loneliness?
  344. What do you know well enough to teach to others?
  345. What’s a quick decision you once made that changed your life?
  346. What have you lost interest in recently?
  347. What makes life easier?
  348. What was the last thing you furiously argued about with someone?
  349. What job would you never do no matter how much it paid?
  350. What is the number one solution to healing the world?
  351. What could society do without?
  352. What stresses you out?
  353. Now that it’s behind you, what did you do last week that was memorable?
  354. Where do you spend most of your time while you’re awake?
  355. What makes someone a hero?
  356. When in your life have you been a victim of stereotyping?
  357. When was the last time you felt lucky?
  358. When did you first realize that life is short?
  359. What is the most insensitive thing a person can do?
  360. What can someone do to grab your attention?
  361. What do you usually think about on your drive home from work?
  362. What’s one downside of the modern day world?
  363. What simple fact do you wish more people understood?
  364. If you could do it all over again, would you change anything?
  365. How would you describe your future in three words?

Also, we’d love it if you visited MarcAndAngel.comand shared some of your answers with us.

 

 
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Marc and Angel Chernoff are professional coaches, full-time students of life, admirers of the human spirit, and have been recognized by Forbes as having “one of the most popular personal development blogs.”  Through their blog, book, course and coaching, they’ve spent the past decade writing about and teaching proven strategies for finding lasting happiness, success, love and peace.  Click "HERE" to purchase their newest book: "1000+ Little Things Happy Successful People Do Differently."

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GUEST POST: A New Call for Extraordinary Prayer

9973809292?profile=RESIZE_400xBy Dave Butts

With all that has been happening in our nation, it eventually becomes very easy to allow our attention to be diverted back to what we call “normal.” Unfortunately, “normal” often means life without God and without a dependence upon Him in prayer. I believe it is vital for us to hold on to our first response – – the response of prayer.

The Church desperately needs to both issue and respond to a new call for extraordinary prayer. Extraordinary prayer goes beyond the normal expectations of the past. It is prayer that can bring God’s power to bear on a whole new world facing us–a world of uncertainty, fear and war.

The Bible records times of extraordinary prayer like this. One good example occurred in the Book of Esther. The crisis there concerned the lives of every Jew held captive in Babylon. A decree had been issued that would result in genocide for the Jews. Queen Esther was going to risk her life by going to the King on behalf of her people; however, before she went, she called her people to three days of prayer and fasting for her mission. Extraordinary prayer brought about extraordinary deliverance.

The Book of Ezra gives another good example of extraordinary prayer. Ezra was preparing to lead a group of the exiles back from Babylon to Jerusalem. The king had even offered troops for protection on the perilous journey. But Ezra had refused the troops, pointing out that God Himself would protect them. As the people gathered, Ezra began to realize how dangerous the trip would be and that they should not merely presume upon God’s protection. So he called the people to humble themselves and pray and fast over the journey. God heard their prayers and gave them safe passage to their destination.

There are many examples of this in more recent history. The great British preacher, Charles H. Spurgeon, was used by God to bring many into the Kingdom and in the process, a large church was built in London. He challenged his people to extraordinary prayer if they wanted to see God’s hand at work in their church. He wrote, “Dear Friends, we do not know what God may do for us if we do but pray for a blessing of the Holy Spirit… Have we not tried to preach without trying to pray? Is it not likely that the church has been putting forth its preaching hand but not its praying hand? O Dear friends! Let us agonize in prayer, and it shall come to pass that this Music Hall shall witness the sighs and groans of the penitent and the songs of the converted. It shall yet happen that this vast host shall not come and go as now it does, but little the better; but men shall go out of this hall praising God and saying–It was good to be there; it was none other than the house of God, and the very gate of heaven. This much to stir you up to prayer.”

In the United States, the revivals known as the Great Awakenings came in response to Christians gathering for extraordinary prayer. Often called “Concerts of Prayer,” God used these times of prayer to bring awakening to His people. Robert Bakke in his wonderful book, The Power of Extraordinary Prayer writes, “It (the Concert of Prayer) was born out of convictions that say with certainty that, regardless of how bright or dark the hour we live in, God is about to do something greater than He’s ever done before. Furthermore, it said that God would not move forward with His ever-increasing and ever more marvelous plans until Christians agreed with Him and agreed with each other about what He was going to do. A great and lucid vision of Christ’s earthly reign was before their eyes–with every nation, people, tribe and tongue united as one company before the throne of God, Christ the Son, and the sevenfold Spirit. It was a compelling vision that would not let Christians rest or let go of God until the rule of God held sway in every aspect of life.” (Pg.133)

Read again that last sentence from Bakke: “It was a compelling vision that would not let Christians rest or let go of God until the rule of God held sway in every aspect of life.” Have you ever made a decision to pray like that? Not merely God bless us or even God protect us–but a life-changing commitment to pray until the “rule of God held sway in every aspect of life”? This should not just be a response made only by individual Christians. Has your church made a decision to pray extraordinarily for the working of God’s power? The key to the Concert of Prayer was for Christians to gather together for times of extraordinary prayer–as was the practice of the early Church.

We are living in times that are not “normal.” What has been normal for us in our prayer life and experience of Christianity will not suffice for this hour. God is calling us to extraordinary prayer! How will you respond?

Dave Butts is the chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee and the co-founder and president of Harvest Prayer Ministries. His popular prayer guide, Asleep in the Land of Nod has been used by hundreds of churches to help their congregations pray for revival.

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