Archives For Culture

During this pivotal year of electing the next President of the United States, we need to be wise with our words and actions. There is much passion rising in America during this season.

These are serious times. It is in the air. We sense it, feel it, and know it in our heart. Much is at stake. This is unquestionable and undeniable.

Yet, it may do well for each of us to remember these things during the election season:

1. Keep everything in perspective.

God is sovereign over all human affairs. Regardless of who wins the nomination of your preferred party or who wins the election, God is ultimately in charge. Keep everything in perspective.

I am not advocating passivism. I am calling for each of us to keep perspective. Our hope and trust is ultimately in the Lord.

2. Be involved in the process.

I am deeply convicted that each Christ-follower needs to be involved in the processes of electing our next president. We need to know about the candidates, understand what they believe, measure it by the Word of God, and vote as we believe God is leading us. Yes, we need to vote not only in the…

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By Lisa Cannon Green

No sabbatical. No help with counseling. No clear picture of what’s expected.

Hundreds of former senior pastors say these were the crucial elements missing from the final churches they led before quitting the pastorate.

A recent study by LifeWay Research points to ways churches can encourage pastors to stay in the ministry, said Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of the Nashville-based research organization.

“Almost half of those who left the pastorate said their church wasn’t doing any of the kinds of things that would help,” Stetzer said. “Having clear documents, offering a sabbatical rest, and having people help with weighty counseling cases are key things experts tell us ought to be in place.”

LifeWay Research surveyed 734 former senior pastors who left the pastorate before retirement age in four Protestant denominations.

Trouble begins early, the survey indicates, with 48 percent of the former pastors saying the search team didn’t accurately describe the church before their arrival.

Their churches were unlikely to have a list of counselors for referrals (27 percent), clear documentation of the church’s expectations of its pastor (22 percent), a sabbatical plan for the pastor (12 percent), a lay counseling ministry (9…

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On Wednesday, August 28, 1963, one of the largest and arguably most significant political and human rights gatherings in the history of the United States took place.

Over 250,000 people descended onto our nation’s capital that day for what is called The March on Washington (for Jobs and Freedom), organized primarily by leading representatives of several pivotal organizations to the civil rights movement.

With such legendary artists and activists like Joan Baez, Roy Wilkins, Bob Dylan, Mahalia Jackson, John Lewis, and Marian Anderson all on the program calling for an end to racial injustice, no voice was heard louder and words more memorable than of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the keynote speaker for the event.

What historians regard as the most important speech of the 20thcentury, King, who then was just 34 years old, masterfully fused the words of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bible, and Samuel Francis Smith’s “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee,” in order to share his now infamous dream of a nation free of racism.

While it is nearly impossible to share in one article all of the major progress we have made as a nation as well as…

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Looking at the direction of the culture, the shape of trends, and the current challenges we face, here’s a handful of ideas to look for in 2016. I strongly recommend that you share this with pastors, ministry and nonprofit leaders you know, because from a media perspective, these are the critical areas that I believe we should focus our messages on in the coming year:

People will be looking for deep answers, not just “practical” advice.  The last 20 years has been a time of “practical” teaching in the church. It was based on the assumption (not always wrong) that people needed to look at the Bible for answers to everyday questions. But too many pastors started preaching shallow topics like “The 5 Keys to a Successful Marriage,” “3 Steps to God’s Healing Power,” or “The Secrets of a Better Prayer Life.” Many of those topics may have been helpful, but if you look at the Christian section at a typical bookstore, it doesn’t look much different than the secular self-help section. Our message has become Oprah in a “Christianized” package.

Colleges are getting the same message by the way. After the last 50 years of…

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By Lisa Cannon Green

In January, Americans resolve to cut the carbs, hit the gym — and get right with God.

When Americans make New Year’s resolutions, a better relationship with God ranks almost as high as better health, Nashville-based LifeWay Research finds.

And for many groups, faith actually outranks health. Older Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics, and Christians are all more likely to say they’ve made resolutions about God than about health.

Overall, 57 percent of Americans report making health-related New Year’s resolutions in the past, while 52 percent say they’ve addressed their relationship with God. Those are the top two responses in a LifeWay Research survey of 1,000 Americans.

“We don’t hear a lot of talk about it, but a relationship with God is still something people want,” said Scott McConnell, vice president of LifeWay Research.

“They have time at the holidays to think, and they realize what they didn’t do last year — things they value but are not living out. So they start the year with an aspiration to change.”

Topics of resolve

While health and faith are the leading topics for New Year’s resolutions, Americans also report addressing their use of time (43 percent), relationships with a family…

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It’s happened again. Unbelievable atrocities as terrorists erupt violence on hundreds of innocent bystanders.

The images filling our screens and feeds send a shudder up our spine and fill our minds with questions.  Questions like:

  • Why did this happen?
  • How is this possible?
  • What should be our response?
  • When will the madness end?

The Bible, unlike any other book in history, gives us the:

ANSWERS TO OUR DEEPEST QUESTIONS

1. The answer to WHY is sin, not evil.

Evil is not a presence, principle or person. Evil is an outcome. It is the result of people who have made the conscious choice to act on their sinful nature. Sin is the cause and evil is the effect. The greater a person embraces the sin in their heart, the more heinous are the actions of their hands. (see Genesis 4:7)

And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.” (John 3:19, NLT)

2. The answer to HOW is confusion.

We have convinced ourselves that diplomacy, policy and democracy have the power to cure or possibly control sin. No amount of teaching, technology, tolerance, treaties or…

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How do we engage the culture with convictional kindness? How do we remain compassionate and loving, even in the face of intense opposition and hostility? If we’re going to be obedient in this, we must have confidence.

As I wrote this, I was simultaneously watching a number of discouraging fissures within churches and ministries. Some of them involved leaders falling. Some involved petty disputes between Christians that resemble Hollywood actors in grudge-matches over whose dressing room is bigger. I told a friend that this made me all the more in awe of the ministry of Paul. After all, we have two thousand years of history behind us. He was battling external threats of arrest, and internal wrestling in the churches with heresy and immorality. And all he had to go on was a career wrecked by a light and a voice.

Paul said that the false teachers were the equivalent of Jannes and Jambres, the Egyptian magicians who mimicked Moses’ and Aaron’s signs from God with their own occultist power (Exod. 7:11-12). God’s servants authenticated their sending from God by transforming a staff into a writhing, living serpent. But Pharaoh’s court magicians turned back their…

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By Lisa Cannon Green

Pope Francis is boosting the reputation of the Catholic Church among Protestant pastors in America.

Nearly 4 in 10 say the pope, known for his humility and concern for the poor, has had a positive impact on their opinions of the Catholic Church, LifeWay Research finds. Almost two-thirds view Pope Francis as a genuine Christian and “brother in Christ.”

However, half of Protestant pastors say they do not value Pope Francis’ opinion on matters of theology.

Changing views

LifeWay Research asked 1,000 Protestant pastors in America about their views in a phone survey from Sept. 8-21, 2015, shortly before the pontiff’s visit to the United States this week.

Pope Francis, who in March 2013 became the first non-European and first Jesuit priest to be named pope, has been outspoken on such issues as welcoming immigrants, shunning materialism, and protecting the environment.

For 43 percent of Protestant pastors, Pope Francis has not changed their views of the Catholic Church. However, half say the current pope has affected their opinions—and almost three times as many cite a positive impact (37 percent) as a negative one (14 percent).

“Our sample itself—Protestant pastors—is named after the Protestant…

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There are two key mistakes American Christians tend to make when thinking about the intersection of religion and culture. The first is to have an attitude of a “majority” culture, a mindset that incorrectly conflates a civic morality with Christianity and seeks to build coalitions to “turn America back” to Christ. But there is another mistake too, and that is to have a fearful, hand-wringing siege mentality. While it’s true that religious liberty is genuinely imperiled, perhaps more than at any time since the revolutionary era, we will not be able to articulate our commitments in this arena if we don’t know how to differentiate between state persecution and cultural marginalization, between public oppression and personal offense.

Several years ago, I was flipping through magazines on an airplane when I came across a couple of pages that spiked my blood pressure. A beer advertisement was tagged with the headline, “Silent Nights Are Overrated.” A few minutes later, in a second publication, there was an advertisement for an outdoor grill which read: “Who Says It’s Better to Give Than to Receive?” My first reaction was a personal, if not tribal, offense. “Would they advertise in…

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Our culture is changing. Things that were common only 20 years ago are becoming impossible. Things that were rare 20 years ago are becoming common place. Disaster seems to strike nearly every day somewhere in America or in the world.

Our world is changing and it’s not becoming more like Christ.

I do, though, believe that there’s hope.

There’s always hope with Jesus.

A big part of that hope is the Church. The Church is still God’s plan to reach humanity. However, as the Church, we stand at a crossroads of opportunity. One way takes us down the same path some of the church has been down for quite some time. That path says, “Look at us and see us. We’ll impress you into believing like us.” That path worked in the past and still works to some degree. However, there’s another path of opportunity. It’s the path that seems to give the Church and those outside of the Church real hope. It’s the path that sheds new light on what really makes Christianity special. There are some real advantages to the Gospel message and those trying to get it out.

Here are 4 advantages the Church has…

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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…

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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…

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Human Dignity

On a Sunday this January, probably of whatever year it is when you read this (at least as long as I’m living), I will probably be preaching somewhere in a church on “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.” Here’s a confession: I hate it.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to preach the Bible. And I love to talk about the image of God and the protection of all human life. I hate this Sunday not because of what we have to say, but that we have to say it at all. The idea of aborting an unborn child or abusing a born child or starving an elderly person or torturing an enemy combatant or screaming at an immigrant family, these ought all to be so self-evidently wrong that a “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday” ought to be as unnecessary as a “Reality of Gravity Sunday.” We shouldn’t have to say that parents shouldn’t abort their children, or their fathers shouldn’t abandon the mothers of their babies, or that no human life is worthless regardless of age, skin color, disability, or economic status.

Part of my thinking here is, I hope, a sign…

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