Archives For Guest Contributor

SimplifyThe path to simplicity is not for the faint of heart. It’s a process that requires total honesty. So let me pose the question: How depleted are you? How long has it been since you have felt fully replenished?

Jesus told Martha that her only hope was to pull up a chair, unplug from all the busyness, and begin a conversation with the only one who could restore her frenetic heart, settle her spirit, and get her heading back to true north. Is the same true for you?

Allow me to ask a follow-up question: Would an honest conversation with Jesus, in an unrushed setting, help you, too?

Of all the leaders I’ve had the opportunity to meet—from CEOs to nonprofit execs to politicians to church leaders—guess which type is most likely to have a problem with being overwhelmed, overscheduled, and exhausted?

Senior pastors! Card-carrying, seminary-graduated women and men of the cloth. Exhaustion runs rampant among pastors. This subject comes up in every city, every country, every culture, and every language group in which I’ve had the privilege of doing some mentoring and training. It’s a universal theme.

Here’s what I often do with my…

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Stats

By Bob Smietana

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – One of the dangers of being a reporter who goes to church is that you know when the preacher is wrong.

Not wrong in theology. Wrong in facts.

Like this one, which came halfway through a recent sermon on marriage. Things are scary out there, the preacher told us. And there’s no difference between people sitting in these pews and everyone else when it comes to divorce.

It made a great sermon illustration. Only it’s not true, said Bradley Wright, a sociologist at the University of Connecticut and author of Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites … and Other Lies You’ve Been Told.

Wright looked at marriage statistics from the General Social Survey (GSS), a national random survey of Americans, taken since the 1970s. Half of the “Nones”—people who claim no religious identity—were divorced. Only 42 percent of self-identified Christians—and members of other faiths—were divorced.

Catholics (35 percent) were least likely to divorce, followed by Mainline Protestants (41 percent) and evangelicals (46 percent). Believers who show up…

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Consider this predicament.  Your boss, the company CEO, has given you a high-level project.  After a few months on the job you discover that your new responsibilities involve falsifying records.  Not only that, but it appears your boss has been trying to cover up questionable accounting practices.  When you confront the CEO, he makes it clear that your career will be over if you share his secret.  He makes a strong argument that you have much more to lose than gain by going public. Then he demands your silence, asserting his authority as your supervisor to ensure you will comply.

Out of respect for his position of authority do you keep his secret? Even if means you are putting yourself at risk, now that you are knowledgeable of a crime but choosing not to report.

Now read this scenario.  Mary’s husband Jim hasn’t been himself for months – moody, short-tempered, abrupt.  One night, Mary wakes up and Jim is not there.  When she walks downstairs, the reflection of the computer screen in the dining room mirror tells the story.  Jim says he is sorry and…

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The following is adapted from the first chapter of God Distorted by John Bishop.

I know people who have incredibly blessed relationships with their fathers. But sadly, in my experience, they are the minority. Mostly I hear stories of people who feel abandoned, devalued, criticized, and unable to measure up. I have heard stories of horrible abuse and of dads who were there but never really “there.” Yet, as important as a dad is, many children in America and throughout Western civilization are living with- out a father, or they bear the scars of an abusive, demanding, uninvolved father. The statistics are frightening:

  • 63 percent of youth suicide victims are from fatherless homes.
  • 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
  • 80 percent of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes.
  • 71 percent of all high-school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
  • Children living in two-parent households with a poor relationship with their father are 68 percent more likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs, compared to all teens in two-parent households.
  • Children with fathers who are involved are 40 percent less likely to repeat a…

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UnstoppableKirk Cameron’s new film, Unstoppable, is one you won’t want to miss. This film is intimate, edgy, bold and full of the unexpected. Let me explain.

It is intimate. The idea for the film came from the life and death of a 15 year old son of one of Kirk’s friends. The young man battled cancer for ten years. His death hit home to Kirk in a personal and painful way. The deep and heart-rending  impact comes through powerfully in the film. When something like this happens, we want to know why. Why would God bring cancer to a family that only wants to serve him? Kirk addresses the universal question, why do bad things to good people. Unstoppable provides truly satisfying answers from God’s word and the story of redemption.

It is edgy. The film is edgy because it presents God’s answers without regard to the artificial comfort zone created by our modern culture. Today we attempt to shield ourselves from death and the unpleasant consequences of sin. We also attempt to shield ourselves from the raw truth of the fall and the impact of the great flood. Unstoppable takes these issues head-on and shows…

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Multi-ethnic ChurchThis blog is co-authored by DERWIN GRAY.  I am the founding and Lead Pastor of Transformation Church & FRANK VIOLA is the author of numerous books on the deeper Christian life.  Full bio’s are at the end of the blog.

The Zimmerman trial and the tragedy that surrounds it has captured the world’s attention. Including that of the body of Christ.

Media coverage has heightened passions on both ends. Conversations about race, law, injustice, prejudice, guns, etc. are all being argued and inflamed.

In this article, we don’t want to weigh in on the public debate. Instead, our passion is to encourage God’s people everywhere to transcend the debate that the world is holding on its own terms by seeing ethnicity through the eyes of our Lord. There is only one race, the human race, which is comprised of different ethnic groups (Acts 17:26).

We want you, dear Christian, to take your cue from the New Testament believers, for they can teach us a great deal about this subject.

A Walk Into the First-Century Church

The world of the first-century was littered with racism and oppression. In the mind of a first-century Jew, Gentiles (Africans, Romans, Greeks, Syrians, Asians,…

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Formed for the Glory of GodJonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is considered by many to be one of the smartest philosophers and theologians in American history. But more than that, Edwards is one of the great spiritual thinkers as well. Edwards helped the churches in New England navigate the work of the Spirit in the “Great Awakening,” and he continues to help pastors walk through these issues through his great work The Religious Affections (one of the most beloved spiritual classics of the Protestant church).

How can we learn from the spiritual practices of Edwards? Here are three lessons that are as important today as they were in Edwards’s time:

1. Spiritual Practices are God-Focused

When engaging in a spiritual practice, whether reading the Bible devotionally, praising God in church or even listening to a sermon, it can be incredibly easy to start focusing on side-issues. Maybe our lips are moving while singing a praise song, but our minds are thinking about everything else we have to do. Maybe we are reading the Bible for something to say that will sound smart and informed rather than hearing from God.

Whatever the case, Edwards would encourage us…

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The following is an excerpt from Frank Viola’s new book God’s Favorite Place on Earth, recommended by 47 top Christian leaders. If you order the book between May 1st and May 7th, you will receive 25 free books and audios by 15 different authors. Just go to GodsFavoritePlace.com for details and endorsements.

Gods Favorite Place On EarthWhen Martha complained to Jesus about Mary on His first visit to Bethany, Mary could have chosen to be offended by her sister. But there is no indication that she felt that way. She also could have taken offense when Judas and the disciples protested against her act of extravagant worship. But again, there is no indication that she did.

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the pain that was inflicted upon Mary in both situations. Here was a woman who loved her Lord with all her heart, and she was unfairly criticized for it. Not by her enemies, but once by her sister and another time by some of the Lord’s own disciples.

It reminds me of the old adage, “No good deed shall go unpunished.”

The words of Elbert Hubbard come to mind: “To avoid…

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Jesus made it plain that God’s primary mission has to do with building and extending his kingdom. The church is not his major agenda. Nor does the church own the kingdom or the mission of God. God’s mission involves the redemptive restoration of everything that sin has tarnished and broken.

God created the church to be a people partnering with him in his redemptive mission in the world. Let’s break that down.

The people of God.Genesis 12:1–2 records God’s cre- ation of a special people who are to live in covenant with him. The call of Abraham begins a metanarrative that runs throughout the whole Bible. The church entered this story when believers were made heirs to the covenant through  the sacrifi- cial work  of Jesus on the cross. This covenantal relationship  was memorialized by Jesus at the Last Supper and is celebrated every time the Lord’s Supper is observed by his followers. The church is a people; it’s not an institution or organization,  though it has institutional  and orga- nizational features and functions. Said another way, the church is a who, not a what….

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Editor’s Note: We were moved by Beth’s words concerning the Warren family and how she drew from her own experience to offer wisdom to others about how we interact within the body of Christ. We’re thankful she allowed us to reprint her article here.

Beth MooreSaturday shortly after noon, I filled up the dog bowl on the back porch with water and pitched dishes in the dishwasher so that I could head out with Melissa for a bite to eat and maybe a little shoe shopping. She’d spent the night with Keith and me in the country and we’d had a lazy Saturday morning over coffee and conversation. I’d set out my purse and keys and decided to wipe down the kitchen counter before we walked out the door. Just as I sprayed the cleaner and grabbed the dishtowel, Melissa walked in staring at the screen of her phone with the oddest expression.

“Mom, I don’t know if it’s true or not but I’m seeing references on Twitter to Rick and Kay Warren losing a son.”

She was ashen. My stomach flipped and, over the next few minutes as she read to me bits…

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