Archives For Discipleship

These articles are written to encourage and equip you and your people to grow closer to God and become more like Jesus.

Topics include: Spiritual formation, CLASS, prayer, Bible reading, other spiritual disciplines, campaigns, theology, etc.

Four Ways to Lead With Integrity

You don’t need to read much of the Bible to realize that God cares deeply about his reputation. 

For example, the Bible says in Ezekiel 20:44,Then you’ll know that I am the LORD, when I will have dealt with you for the benefit of my own reputation and not according to your evil attitudes or corrupt practices” (ISV).

But God doesn’t just care about his reputation. He cares about the church’s reputation, too. This is taught throughout Scripture. As Christians, we are “little Christs” who represent Jesus on earth. We can either bring him fame or shame. 

This is important for all believers, but it’s particularly crucial for those of us who lead. We must be people of integrity. The world is watching how we respond to the tests and trials in our lives. We either draw people to Jesus or repel them with our lack of integrity.

To have a ministry of integrity, make these four commitments:

Speak the truth plainly. 

The Bible tells us in James 5:12, “But most…

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What the Bible Says About the Doors in Your Life

A few years back, I spent most of the year studying the Bible’s use of the word “door.” The concept is found about 400 times in Scripture, often as a metaphor for opportunities in our lives. 

You may not realize all the doors you have before you right now. Doors can be entrances or exits. They can be a bridge to something great or a barrier. They can represent acceptance or rejection.

As I studied the concept of doors in the Bible, I made a list of over 50 lessons that God wants us to learn about the “doors” in front of us—and here are seven of those lessons:

Every door is a decision.

In the Bible, doors are metaphors for the choices we make every day. We discover early on in life that we can walk through some doors and not others. But we need to make a decision each time we see a door.

My destiny will be shaped by which doors I walk past and which doors I…

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4 Questions to Consider When Making Godly Decisions

As pastors, we’re often asked hard questions about how to make decisions. People will come to us and ask, “Can I be a good Christian and still do ___________?”

Sometimes the Bible is clear about how we should answer their questions. But many times, the issue is morally neutral—neither response is good nor bad.

So what do you do?

Here are four questions to consider when helping people make godly decisions.

Will the action be helpful?

Paul tells us that our freedom in Christ means everything is allowable, but he reminds us that not everything is beneficial. 

He writes, “‘Everything is permissible for me,’ but not everything is helpful.’ Everything is permissible for me,’ but I will not be brought under the control of anything” (1 Corinthians 6:12 HCSB).

In that one verse, Paul gives us two tests to guide our decisions:

  • Will it make me a better person? Many things are not necessarily wrong, but they’re just not necessary. Life is too short to waste on non-essentials,…

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It’s Never Too Late for a Miracle

Every pastor needs hope. You can’t live without it. You can’t lead without it, either. And you definitely can’t just preach about hope. You need to embrace it personally.

Over the past year, you’ve likely needed to help many people in your community find hope during the pandemic. After a year of helping other people find hope in one of the most difficult seasons any of us have experienced, you may find yourself in need of hope.

So where do you find hope in the midst of pain?

You get it from the resurrection, the central event in all of history. 

Most people don’t understand hope. They think it’s just wishful thinking about the future or optimism. But hope isn’t based on what you think you can do. Hope is what you think God can do. It is based on reality. Hope says, “It’s bad; it’s really, really bad. In fact, I don’t think it’s been any worse than it is right now. But I believe God can bring us through this. I believe God is in control.”

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Three Ways to Recharge During Your Sabbath

I know many pastors who have been exhausted over the last year. Pastoring during a pandemic has brought unique challenges and new routines for all of us. And some of us are still struggling to keep up with all the changes we’ve had to navigate. 

If this is you, God has more to say about what you’re feeling right now than you might realize. In fact, God has more to say about your need for rest than he does about murder or adultery. God’s commandment to observe the Sabbath is the longest of the Ten Commandments.

Exodus 20:8-9 says: “Remember to keep the Sabbath holy. Work and get everything done during six days each week, but the seventh day is a day of rest to honor the Lord your God. On that day no one may do any work: not you, your son or daughter, your male or female slaves, your animals, or the foreigners living in your cities. The reason is that…

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Managing Your Mind for More Effective Ministry

Your mental health is a critical part of your effectiveness in ministry. But it’s easy to think that your problems have more to do with your circumstances—a lack of resources, spiritual apathy in your church and community, or a personal struggle you’re facing—and less to do with how you think.

But the truth is, God is far more interested in changing your mind than your circumstances. We want God to change our circumstances and take away the pain and sorrow around us. Those issues are important, but God wants to first deal with what’s going on in you.

Paul tells us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2 NLT).

Nothing will change in your life or your ministry unless you change how you think. 

Why is mental health so important?

How to De-escalate Conflict in Your Ministry and Family

Many church leaders assume conflict is simply built into their ministries. In fact, it has become such a regular part of pastoral work, that people frequently joke about its pervasiveness in ministry. The good news is, conflict doesn’t need to overwhelm your life.

There is hope.

God has a lot to say about quarrelling in the church and in our families. In his Word we find six principles that will help you de-escalate conflict wherever you find it.

Understand how destructive conflict is.

“The fool who provokes his family to anger and resentment will finally have nothing worthwhile left” (Proverbs 11:29 NLT).

There is a real cost to conflict. Quarreling is a big deal to God. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible mentions the topic more than 75 times. At least six times, God says not to quarrel. He knows that it will destroy everything we hold dear if we don’t get a handle on it.

It shouldn’t surprise…

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Developing a Hopeful Faith During Trials

Do you know how many times I’ve wanted to resign as the pastor of Saddleback Church?

Just about every Monday morning.

Ministry is hard work. I’m guessing you’ve had times when you wanted to throw in the towel, too. Maybe it was after a rough sermon. Or maybe you received some unfair criticism you wanted to escape. 

Maybe it’s even deeper.

James also struggled in ministry. But he and the people he wrote to didn’t just face criticism or stress over budgetary concerns. They faced outright persecution.

James knew that in the middle of tough times, similar to the ones his readers were facing, hope was essential. Throughout the book of James, God gives us a roadmap for how to embrace a hopeful faith. I don’t know what you’re facing today, but you can still lean into these seven truths during difficult seasons.

Our difficulties won’t last.

In light of eternity, our problems are short in duration. The Bible reminds us in James 5:10: “My friends, remember the prophets who…

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Re-discovering Your Joy in Ministry

Do you remember the thrill you felt when you first had a relationship with Jesus? Everything was new and exciting. You couldn’t believe what God was doing in your life.  

I see many Christians, even pastors, who start off the Christian life with so much excitement and joy. Then their joy fades.

Life is full of killjoys. Ministry leadership has its own collection of things that rob us of joy. As leaders, we face unfair criticism, loneliness, and fear that get in the way of the joy God wants for us.

Joy is the recurring theme of Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Even as Paul writes from a prison cell, he reiterates it over and over. He knew firsthand the killjoys in ministry because he had faced them, too.

Paul gives us three safeguards to help us protect our joy when we see it fade:

We must resist legalistic attitudes.

Legalism destroys joy in the Christian life more than anything else. Legalism ruins people, families, and even churches. I define legalism as any time we substitute rules and rituals for our…

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Three Mistakes We Make When Facing the Future

To be human is to live your entire life without knowing the future. The only one who knows the future is God. He is above and outside of time. We are not. 

But not knowing the future often creates unnecessary anxiety and stress in our lives. Recent surveys have shown that 66 percent of people are fearful of the future. 

Fear has always been part of the human experience. Even in biblical times, people struggled with uncertainty about the future. Thankfully, James 4:13-17 teaches us how to avoid the three most common mistakes people typically make about the future—mistakes that you and I still make today.

Mistake #1: We make plans without asking God.

At first glance, the plan James describes in verse 13 doesn’t sound out of the ordinary. He writes, “Look here, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit’” (NLT).

James is describing a…

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5 Reasons to Have Hope in 2021

In 1927, an American submarine collided with a Coast Guard vessel off the coast of Provincetown, Massachusetts, and began to sink. The Coast Guard sent divers to assess the damage and begin a rescue operation. As the divers got close to the sub, they heard a sailor tapping on the hull in Morse Code. He asked, “Is there hope?”

It’s a critical question, particularly as we start a new year. We live in a broken world, a truth that 2020 reminded us of often. Just about everyone had their lives shook up in some way. 

Pastors, too, struggled with hopelessness. Many endured ministry challenges they had never faced before.  

That’s why the question, “Is there hope?” is so important for 2021.

As your church faces the challenges and joys of 2021, let me point you to five unshakable truths that anchor our hope as Christians. This year, no matter what your congregation is facing, remind yourself and those you lead of these truths from 1 Peter 1.

God chose us before we chose him.

Peter tells us, Continue Reading

Last year, many churches began 2020 with sermons on vision. The opportunity to preach on “Vision 2020” was too much for many pastors to pass up.

But now, as we head into 2021, many pastors are struggling to cast their vision for the next year.

That’s where many pastors are right now. After the strangest year anyone can remember, they just can’t see what’s next. 

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (KJV). Vision isn’t negotiable for church leaders. Your church needs God’s vision. 

The word “vision” in this verse literally means a dream. You’ve got to have a dream for your life and for your ministry. Otherwise, your church will just drift. Without a dream for your church, your people will perish.

The Gospels of Luke and Mark tell a story of a blind man, Bartimaeus, that can help us as ministry leaders learn to see again and get God’s vision for our ministries, even after all we’ve experienced in 2020. 

Every miracle performed by Jesus teaches us…

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