1 Thessalonians 5:18 says, “Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
People want to know God’s will for their lives, and when people ask about God’s will, they’re typically thinking about what they should do next in a particular area of their lives. Who should I marry? Where should I go to school? Which job should I accept? But these are all “number two’s” when it comes to God’s will. His will is, first and foremost, that we learn to give thanks.
Why is it always God’s will no matter what happens in my life that I am to give thanks, not for my circumstances but in my circumstances?
1. Gratitude honors God.
Gratitude honors God. Anytime you thank anyone you honor them. You need to learn to thank God not just for what he does but who he is.
“God, I thank you that you’re smarter than me… I thank you that your wisdom is greater… I thank you that you know what will make me happy more than I do… I thank you that you’re consistent when I‟m inconsistent… I…Continue Reading
Many preachers believe the purpose of preaching is to explain the Bible, or to interpret the text, or to help people understand God’s Word. But these all fall short of what it really is.
Paul gives us God’s purpose of preaching in Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV): “Christ gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists and some to be pastors and teachers to prepare God’s people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.”
Why did God give prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers? To produce Christ-like people. That’s the purpose of preaching: to help people become like Jesus.
How does this happen? Through application. The only way lives are changed is through the application of God’s Word. The lack of application in preaching and teaching is, I believe, the number one problem with preaching in America.
Too many sermons are nothing more than lectures on biblical backgrounds or obscure Greek and Hebrew words. As a result,…Continue Reading
Editor’s Note: This is the second part of an interview originally published in 2002. Click here to read part 1.
Warren: First, buildings are to be instruments, not monuments. We would never build a building we couldn’t tear down – if we needed to in order to reach more people – because people are the priority not buildings.
Winston Churchhill once said, “We shape our buildings and then they shape us.” Most churches build too soon and too small. Then a permanently small building shapes a permanently small future. That’s why we postponed our building as long as we could. That meant, in order to keep growing, we used 79 different buildings in 13 years. We often joked, “We’re the church that, if you can figure out where we are this week, you get to come.”
Walker: You also have a strong opinion that churches should not try to mix traditional with contemporary worship styles.
Warren: Absolutely. If you try to please everybody you will end up…Continue Reading
Editor’s Note: The following is a re-published version of an inspiring interview with Pastor Rick Warren from 2002, and the principles are still extremely relevant to where the church is today. Pass this one along…
Jon Walker: You’re known for saying that pastors need to be more “lost” centered, that is, looking at their church from the perspective of someone who doesn’t go to church. Could you elaborate on that?
Rick Warren: The most overlooked principle for church growth is we have to love people the way Jesus did. That’s it! The motive behind everything we’ve done at Saddleback is that we love and care about lost people. The reason Jesus attracted such large crowds is because He loved people. On the other hand, I’ve heard churches justify their lack of growth by saying, “We’re small because we haven’t watered down the gospel.” But maybe the real reason they don’t have a crowd is because they don’t want a crowd! They love their own comfort more than they love lost people.
To reach unbelievers you have to move outside your own comfort zone and do things that often feel awkward and uncomfortable to you. It…Continue Reading
You can learn a lot about a person by the kind of prayer he prays. For instance, a selfish prayer indicates a selfish spirit. Have you ever heard a prayer that sounds like a Christmas list — I want this, and I want that. Some people try to impress you with their prayers, yet they come off as arrogant and prideful.
For leaders, there’s a model prayer in the book of Nehemiah. Remember Nehemiah? When he first heard about the downfall of Jerusalem, he prayed for four months.
This was not just a casual prayer. Instead, it gives us a pattern for successful praying. If you want to know how to pray, study the book of Nehemiah — particularly this prayer.
Here are four secrets to answered prayer from the life of Nehemiah:
1. Base your request on God’s character
Pray like you know God will answer you: “I’m expecting you to answer this prayer because of who you are. You are a faithful God. You are a great God. You are a loving God. You are a wonderful God. You can handle this problem, God!”
Pastor, you’re surrounded by dirt.
To be more precise, you’re surrounded by soil – all kinds of soil. In your community, you have people who are ready to respond to the Gospel and people who aren’t. Your job is to isolate the good soil and plant your seed there.
Jesus clearly taught this notion of spiritual receptivity in the Parable of the Sower and the Soils (Matt. 13:3-23). Like different kinds of soil, people respond differently to the Good News. Everyone is not equally ready to receive Christ. Some people are very open to hearing the Gospel and others are very closed. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explained that there are hard hearts, shallow hearts, distracted hearts, and receptive hearts.
If you want your ministry to maximize its evangelism effectiveness, you need to focus your energy on the right soil. That’s the soil that will produce a hundred-fold harvest. Take a cue from those who work with actual dirt. No farmer in his right mind would waste seed, a precious commodity, on infertile ground that won’t produce a crop. In the same way, I believe…Continue Reading
You tend to base your decisions on one of four motivations in life: circumstances, conveniences, criticisms, or convictions. Yet only decisions that are based on your convictions will last and leave a lasting legacy.
The people who have made the greatest impact on this world, for good or bad, are those who had the deepest convictions. They weren’t necessarily the smartest people, the brightest people, the most educated, the wealthiest, or even the most famous.
If you’re going to build convictions, you need to build them on something that’s going to last. Everything changes. Fads change, fashions change. Psychology changes. Even science textbooks change. We keep learning more and more. There’s only one thing that never changes. That is the truth of God. If it was true a thousand years ago, it will be true today and it will be true a thousand years from tomorrow because truth does not change.
The Bible says this in Isaiah 40:8: “The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever.” (NLT)
Saddleback Church has been built on six biblical convictions that are all based on God’s eternal Word. I’m willing to go…Continue Reading
I’m often asked, “How can a service be both a worship service and place for seekers to experience Jesus?”
At Saddleback we believe you can have both without compromising either.
When we speak of worship, we are talking about something only believers can do. Worship is from believers to God. We magnify God’s name in worship by expressing our love and commitment to him. Unbelievers simply cannot do this.
Here is the simple definition of worship that we operate on at Saddleback:
“Worship is expressing our love to God for who he is, what he’s said, and what he’s doing.”
We believe there are many appropriate ways to express our love to God: by praying, singing, obeying, trusting, giving, testifying, listening, and responding to his Word, thanking, and many other expressions.
God – not man – is the focus and center of our worship.
God is the consumer of worship
Although unbelievers cannot truly worship, they can watch believers worship. They can observe the joy that we feel. They can see how we value God’s Word and how we respond to it. They can hear how the Bible answers the problems and questions of life. They can notice how…Continue Reading
Most church conflict results from poor communication. Even your best ideas, plans, or suggestions are worthless if you can’t communicate them effectively. Remember, communication is not automatic. Just because someone hears you say something doesn’t mean they’re really listening.
Fortunately, there are seven skills you can develop that will guarantee people will listen when you speak. Just follow these guidelines from the Bible:
- CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME! Timing is the first key. You may be ready to talk, but are they ready to listen? Never drop a bomb! “There is a right time and a right way to do everything.” Eccl. 8:6 (GN)
- PLAN YOUR PRESENTATION. Think it through first. Especially plan your introduction and your supporting illustrations. Don’t start with the detail. In TV they move from the long shot to the medium shot to the close up. “Intelligent people think before they speak. What they say is then more persuasive.” Prov. 16:23 (GN)
- BEGIN WITH HIS OR HER NEEDS. A listener is always asking “Why should I listen to this?” and “How will it benefit me?” If you answer those two questions up front, you will have their undivided attention. “Speak only…according…
God has given every believer, in every one of our churches, a mission – to go into the world and share the Good News about Jesus. Why? Why should we care enough about the people around us to tell them about how to get to Heaven? This can be a difficult concept to teach our congregations. How do we motivate them to take the Good News and share it with others? Here is something that might help.
The Bible – in 2 Corinthians 5:14 – says: “For the love of Christ compels us.” Our love for Jesus motivates us to fulfill our mission.
Everybody matters to God. God has never made a person that he didn’t love. God made some people that I don’t love, and God has made a lot of people that I don’t even like.
But God loves them. The most despicable person you can imagine is still loved by God. And because God cares, we must care.
I once watched a televised interview with Jane Roe – of the famous Roe-v-Wade abortion case. During the interview, she shared that she had become a believer in Jesus Christ. As she told her story, you could hear how her heart had been softened and she’d…Continue Reading
“Some men arrived carrying a paraplegic on a stretcher. They were looking for a way to get into the house and set him before Jesus. When they couldn’t find a way in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof, removed some tiles, and let him down in the middle of everyone, right in front of Jesus. Impressed by their bold belief, he said, ‘Friend, I forgive your sins.’”(Luke 5:18-20, Msg)
Do you remember the story of the paralytic in Luke 5 – where four men broke through the roof of a synagogue to lower their friend to Jesus? Sometimes it takes something that radical to lead someone to Jesus!
And sometimes it just takes the caring, consistent love of a small group of Christians. How can the small groups in your church become the effective evangelism tools that God wants them to become?
Your church’s small groups must care about people who don’t know Jesus
The reason God used the four friends in Luke 5 is because they cared for the paralytic. Just like those four, the evangelistic mission of your small groups need to start with love. The number one reason Christians…
Editor’s Note: The following article by Pastor Rick Warren originally ran just after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on American soil. The Ministry Toolbox launched six months prior. These words were on Pastor Rick’s heart as he addressed Saddleback Church and the world’s pastors that fateful week…
The horrific mass murder of innocent Americans leaves all rational people shocked, angry, grief-stricken and numb. Our tears flow freely and our hearts carry a deep ache. How could this happen in our nation?
As mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors and coworkers begin to share their stories of the horror, this tragedy will become even more personal. As it becomes more personal, it will become more painful, and as our pain deepens, so will the questions. Why does God allow evil to happen? If God is so great and so good, why does he allow human beings to hurt each other?
The answer lies in both our greatest blessing and our worst curse: our capacity to make choices. God has given us a free will. Made in God’s image, he has given us the freedom to decide how we will act and the ability to make moral…Continue Reading