Archives For Pastor Rick Warren

God wants you to grow up.

“God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love – like Christ in everything” (Ephesians 4:15 The Message).

“We are not meant to remain as children ….” (Ephesians 4:14 Phillips).

Your heavenly Father’s goal is for you to mature and develop the characteristics of Jesus Christ, living a life of love and humble service.  Sadly, millions of Christians grow older but never grow up.  They are stuck in perpetual spiritual infancy, remaining in diapers and booties. The reason is because they never intended to grow.

Spiritual growth is not automatic. It takes an intentional commitment. You must want to grow, decide to grow, make an effort to grow, and persist in growing.

Discipleship – the process of becoming like Christ – always begins with a decision.

“As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he rose and followed him” (Matthew 9:9 ESV).

When the first disciples chose to follow Jesus, they didn’t understand all the implications of their decision. They simply responded to Jesus’ invitation. That’s all you need…

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Achievers

Men are wired for achievement. Ultimately, God made us this way so that we would pursue and achieve his purposes for our lives.

But there are a lot of reasons why men struggle to achieve the goals for which God made them.

  • We’re easily distracted by both opportunities and threats.
  • We’re criticized when we choose to follow God’s plan at any cost.
  • We’re often overwhelmed by the responsibilities of manhood.

Here are some words of wisdom for men who want to fulfill their God-given destinies and achieve his purposes . . .

1. Keep on working in spite of the distractions.

There are multiple kinds of distractions men face. Some are subtle and some are obvious, but we manage, often, to fall for both.

Positive distractions come in the form of opportunities to do more things than we were made to do. Often, these are “good” opportunities, except that they aren’t the opportunities God has led us to pursue. We get busy. We get overwhelmed. And we start finding our identity in work and business and secondary pursuits.

Negative distractions come in the form of enticement to sin, to slack off from our responsibilities, or to substitute our own…

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Freedom

In John 8, Jesus made an incredible, profound statement. He said, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free . . . So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free” (John 8:32, 36 NLT).

You’ll be really free. What was he talking about? What does he set me free from?

The Bible says that Jesus wants to set you free in three dimensions.

1. Jesus wants to set you free from the pain of your past.

That’s a good thing. I’ve discovered the number one cause of unhappiness is people who are stuck in the past. They’re holding on to hurts. They can’t relate to the present because they’re still reacting to the past.

I’ve discovered that there are two kinds of things that people have a hard time getting over – resentment and regret. Jesus wants to set you free from both of them.

First, he wants to set you free from the pain of resentment. Everybody has been hurt by other people. You’ve been hurt many, many times. Sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.

What you do with that hurt will determine whether you live freely or whether you live…

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When I wrote The Purpose Driven Church, I made the bold assertion that every church is driven by something. That’s still true, and you must decide what will drive your congregation.

A lot of churches are driven by tradition. Others will be driven by personalities and politics. Still other churches are driven by debt, by the shape of their buildings, or by a ministry structure so large and so inflexible that fresh growth will be difficult.

Healthy churches, however, are driven by God’s purposes. These churches will focus on the Great Commandment and the Great Commission, and they’ll discover that God wants his church to fulfill five purposes:

  • Worship – Healthy churches will magnify the name of Jesus in all that they do.
  • Evangelism – Healthy churches will focus on the mission of introducing unchurched people to Jesus.
  • Fellowship – Healthy churches will bring people into membership in God’s family, the church.
  • Discipleship – Healthy churches will help people become more like Christ.
  • Ministry – Healthy churches will help…

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In ministry, some things must never change but others must change constantly.

Clearly, God’s five purposes for his church are non-negotiable. If a church fails to balance the five purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism, then it’s no longer a healthy church, and it’s in danger of becoming simply a social club.

On the other hand, the way or style in which we fulfill these eternal purposes must continually be adjusted and modified because human culture is always changing. Our message must never change, but the way we deliver that message must be constantly updated to reach each new generation.

In other words, our message of transformation must never change while the transformation of our presentation should be continual, adapting to the new languages of our culture.

Consider this: the word contemporary literally means with temporariness. By nature, nothing contemporary is meant to last forever! It is only effective for a while and only relevant in that particular moment – which’s what makes it contemporary.

What is considered contemporary and relevant in the next ten years will inevitably appear dated and tired in 20 years. As a pastor, I’ve watched churches adopt many contemporary styles…

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Church Building

This week, walk around your church campus and try to see it through the eyes of a first-time guest.

We become so familiar with our surroundings that we become oblivious to the faded paint, the frayed carpet, the chipped pulpit, the stack of stuff on the piano, or the burned-out light bulbs overhead.

One way to combat this tendency is to do an Environmental Impact Report on your church. Take pictures throughout your facilities and show them to your leaders in order to figure out what needs to be changed.

Here are some environmental factors to pay close attention to:

1. Lighting: Lighting has a profound effect on people’s moods. Inadequate lighting dampens the spirit of a service. Shadows across a speaker’s face reduce the impact of any message.

Most churches are far too dark. I’ve noticed that even churches with plenty of windows often cover them up. Somehow, churches have gotten the idea, maybe from funeral parlors, that dimming the lights creates a more “spiritual” mood. I completely disagree.

I believe that church buildings should be bright and full of light. God’s character is expressed in light. 1 John 1:5 says, “God is light; in him there is…

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Keep Climbing

Stress is just a part of ministry. If you don’t have stress in your ministry, you’re probably not being very effective. You need a certain amount of stress in your life to accomplish anything. Stress is what gives you the energy, the effort, and the ability to actually accomplish what God has called you to do.

Take a violin, for example. You have to put stress on the violin strings to make music. If you add just the right amount of stress, it creates beautiful music. On the other hand, if you tighten it too tight, the strings snap.

Stress can be a problem for our ministry as well. When you get so stressed you feel like you’re ready to pop, that’s bad for your ministry. The Bible gives us four things we need to do when we’re stressed to a breaking point.

Release your frustrations.

Stress creates all kinds of negative emotions – like anxiety, worry, fear, guilt, shame, and depression. And it can create frustration as well. What do we typically do with that frustration? Instead of taking it to God, we push it down deeper inside of us and pretend everything is…

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Frustration

Many of our biggest mistakes in life can be traced to handling disappointment in unwise ways. In times when we’re emotionally low, it’s easy to slip back into the habits that wreaked havoc on our lives in the past. Sometimes, we just need better coping mechanisms!

Here are five simple steps for dealing with frustrations in your life, based on the Bible.

1.  Ask yourself, “Did I cause it?”

The Bible says, “A man reaps what he sows” (Galatians 6:7 NIV). Many things in life frustrate us because we brought them on ourselves. We don’t have anybody else to blame.

It’s frustrating to run out of gas on a trip. But if you didn’t stop to get gas before you left, or decided to push your luck, who’s to blame?

2.  Ask yourself, “What can I learn from it?”

Use the irritation as an opportunity to grow in character and become more like Christ.

How does God produce the fruit of the Spirit in your life? He places you in the opposite situation. If God wants to teach you love, he will put you around unlovely people. If God wants to teach you peace, he will put…

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Pastor, if you’re like most men out there, you’re probably still looking for just the right gift for your wife this Mother’s Day. You may be searching the Internet, walking the aisles of a department store, or thinking through the perfect lunch.

But you may already have the perfect gift within your grasp.

In just about any survey you find about women’s needs, affection is at the top of the list. Affection symbolizes security, comfort, and approval. When a husband shows affection to his wife, he sends a powerful message to her: “I care for you. I’ll take care of you. I’ll protect you. I’m concerned for your needs. I approve of you. I’m proud of you.”

Colossians 3:19 says, “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (NIV). The Amplified Bible says this in the verse, “be affectionate and sympathetic with them” (AMP). As long as Jesus Christ is first place in your life, it’s impossible to give your wife too much honor. The more you appreciate her, the more you love her, the more you show affection for her, the more she will mature in Christ.

You can learn to be affectionate. It doesn’t…

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One of the reasons people are hesitant to try attending a church for the first time is that they’re not sure what to expect. In fact, they probably expect it to be a little bit awkward and uncomfortable.

Over time, it’s important for your church to become known as a place where people will be able to understand what’s happening. That doesn’t mean changing the message, but it does mean clearly explaining what is going on during the worship service.

If you use words like “prelude” or “convocation” without explanation, you’ll send the message that the service is intended for insiders and those who already understand what’s happening.

Here are a few suggestions for how to make people more comfortable in a church worship service that might be brand new to them.

1. Use easy-to-understand terminology.

Instead of “Invocation,” call it an “Opening Prayer.” Or better yet, don’t call it anything. Just have the prayer. No one really needs to know that a “Prelude” will be happening. Just play the music.

If you have a traditional altar call, or even an invitation for people to go somewhere for prayer, be very clear and specific in how you invite people to respond.

I’ve…

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Clear Lake

No matter how many times I hear it, it still shocks me: A pastor announces his resignation because of adultery. Often it’s with someone within his church, sometimes even someone actively involved in ministry, such as a choir member or Sunday school teacher.

It’s such an incredible waste of God’s resources that it not only grieves me, it angers me. I have told my staff that if any of them even flirt with temptation, I will come after them with a baseball bat, and I’ve told them to do the same with me.

As Christian leaders, we need to be above reproach. Paul wrote, “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence” (1 Corinthians 10:12 MSG).

That’s why I established these Saddleback Staff Standards for maintaining moral integrity:

  1. Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex. *
  2. Thou shalt not have the opposite sex pick you up or drive you places when it is just the two of you. *
  3. Thou shalt not kiss any attendee of the opposite sex or show…

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Temptation

We’re struggling! More people than ever before are falling prey to sexual temptation, especially through viewing pornography.

Unfortunately, many pastors admit (anonymously) to viewing pornography as well.

If this is a temptation for you, here are some steps to take . . .

Be honest when you’re fatigued and take a rest.

When you’re tired, you are vulnerable to a lot of things – discouragement, depression, and temptation. The Bible encourages us to work for six days and rest on the seventh. If you’re not taking a day off every week, you’re breaking the fourth commandment. Take a day off.

It’s particularly important to take some time off after a spiritual and emotional high. No doubt you’re familiar with the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 18, where he had a big God contest with the prophets on Mt. Carmel. Right after that, he’s in the desert saying, God, I want to die. Take my life. Fatigue is a hazard of being in the ministry, and it lowers our resistance to temptation.

Don’t believe your own hype.

In ministry, you’re put on a pedestal with lots of people admiring you. After one high-profile leader sinned sexually and stepped down temporarily from…

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