- Secret Children of Catholic Priests Live Hidden With Sorrow
- Los Angeles County Leaders Give Approval for Plan to Pay Homeowners to House the Homeless
- Black-Jewish Banker, Rebecca Allen, Sues her Boss, Goldman Sachs, for Racial Discrimination
- Dr. Michael Brown Shares Wonderful Story of Deliverance From ‘Gay Christianity’
- Late Crystal Cathedral Founder Robert Schuller’s Belongings Auctioned Off Online
- Washington Pastor Says Solar Eclipse is Warning of God’s Judgment, & That the Church Should Repent
- Ken Blackwell on Over 100 Sanctuary Cities Refusing to Comply With Federal Immigration Laws
- Kevin Shrum on Charlottesville & Sin
- Christian Fast Food Chick-fil-A’s New Location at Atlanta Falcons Stadium Will be Closed on Sundays
- 12-Year-Old Tennessee Girl Found Murdered in Mobile Home After Texting Mother Saying Someone Was Knocking at the Door
- Former Mrs. America & NBC Host Convicted of Swindling Money From Macy’s
- Black Congress Members Say Confederate Statues Should Be Removed From the Capitol
- LISTEN: How to Help the Work of God, Part 1 (Praying Through the Bible #258 with Daniel Whyte III)
- Kim Burrell Says She Was Hurt When Fellow Christians Condemned Her Sermon Against Homosexuality
- WATCH: Bad White People Marched With KKK Torches On Saturday / Good White People March With Candles Today
DFW Area Churches And Pastors Come Together To Host A Kingdom Conversation On Race And The Alt-Right Sunday, August 20 At 6:30pm.
I think it’s time to say something. I’m going to keep it pretty short because I’m not ready to go long on it. Still processing it. Still trying to figure things out. One day maybe I’ll write on it with some length and depth but not until God has done a longer and deeper work in me.
I’ve been through the identity crisis of my adult life in the last year. No exaggeration. It has been one of the most excruciating things I have ever endured. After a lifetime of belonging – which, in itself, betrays a certain privilege – I tumbled into a season marked by the most alien sense of unbelonging. Some of it was imagined. Some of it was startlingly real. Some of it was temporary. Some of it painfully endures. I disappointed people I’d so wanted to please and I was disappointed by people I demanded to be heroic. In some very painful respects, I’d given the benefit of the doubt where I shouldn’t have and withheld it in a few places worthy of it.
Numbers of us who’d previously aligned and agreed – not on everything but on enough – were cracking and crumbling. Some people I thought I knew felt like strangers to me and I, to them. Each of us Christian, some of us would talk and talk and truly attempt to understand one another only to hang up or walk away exasperated, incapable of grasping the other’s view. New teams were forming and I felt like I was slipping on ice, scrambling to find the right one. The one that would always be right on everything.
A fog had cleared that I couldn’t cloud back up. I saw things I couldn’t unsee and, for a while, a dark cloud descended where that fog had been. I had the unshakable sense that, though it was dark, I was not to shut my eyes. That I’d see more in that dark place than I’d seen in years of sun-up.
Still navigating some of it. Still trying to keep my eyes open.
And mostly to things that need changing in myself. Ways I’ve been kidding myself. Ways I’ve been part of the problem instead of the solution. Ways I’ve been a coward. A people pleaser. A crowd pleaser. Ways I’ve been acceptably Christian in many circles maybe, but not Christlike. Make no mistake. There can be a wide gulf fixed between those two things.
My entire identity has been steeped in the church. In a people, not bricks and mortar. Started serving the church in 6th grade when I’d graduated out of VBS and began helping the grown ups. Church has been good to me, a harbor amid the stormy unstable home life of my upbringing. I have no horror stories about church. I’ve known love, acceptance, forgiveness, grace and growth in each congregation and never loved a church more than the one I’m presently part of. I can’t imagine life without church. I will serve it till I die.
But my identity is having to be reshaped in Christ alone. He alone cannot change. He alone remains unswayed. He alone is Savior. He alone can take the pressure of being adored. Everyone else we set up high is just another Humpty Dumpty waiting to fall.
I am sanguine to the bone. I love a group. I love my friends. I love my associates. I love familiarity. I love knowing what to expect and getting it. I love being able to fill in a sentence like this with confidence: I am a ____________________.
But the only label I know for certain I want to wear is this one: Jesus-follower. I want to go with Jesus. When pilgrimage gets to be a group fare, fabulous. Nothing is more fun to me. But when pilgrimage with Him requires more aloneness or more traversing with unfamiliar sojourners who make me feel awkward, that has to be just fine, too.
I want to do people good. I want to go to those margins where people need the gospel most. I want to love. Sacrifice. Wrestle. Change. I don’t just want to go where I feel like I belong. I just want to go where Jesus points.
Months into this ridiculous identity crisis, it turns out I didn’t lose as many friends or as much community as I feared. But what I lost was my naivety.
Good riddance I guess. Good but hard riddance.
I want to be brave for the sake of the gospel. Too much is at stake and too many people dying and suffering to take the cheap route. This was meant all along to cost us something.
Maybe fitting isn’t the point. The fact is, we don’t fit here. We fit someplace we’ve never been. Maybe the holes we feel in our lives aren’t all supposed to be filled. Let them sit there awhile and ache. Let them sit there awhile and speak. Maybe they’ve got something to say.
I continue my journey through the Land of Luther, all as part of the project I’m calling EPIC. Today we visited Erfurt where Luther entered a monastery and began life as a monk. Here are a few notes and a couple of photos.
Post columnist Michelle Singletary offers her advice and answers your questions.
Let’s not forget there’s an ugly economic side to bigotry.
I’m not sure the news will ever be the same after the presidency of Donald Trump. While the industry has already been in a long decline, it seems to have entered into an era of near-insanity as the networks and websites compete against one another to set new standards in thoughtless, bloviating reporting. Whether those networks love or hate the president, they seem to be tripping over themselves and one another to say the most the fastest, to constantly editorialize on every decision, every step, every misstep. Reading the news has become a grueling, exasperating chore. Watching it has become almost unbearable.
Your eyeballs are the most important resource in the world to news outlets. They need your eyeballs on their ads so they can turn a profit. More than ever, they get eyeballs on ads through bold, catchy, hyperbolic headlines. Whether those headlines are true or whether they accurately describe the content of the articles is beside the point. The headlines matter more than the content that lies behind them. What matters to them is not whether you read the article, but whether you open the page and see all those ads.
Meanwhile, we are so inundated with news and information that we respond by reading widely but shallowly. We skim a hundred headlines rather than study one article. Our eyes flit over articles in moments but we rarely pause to read, to consider, to apply. We are being pummeled with more headlines than at any other time in history, but deep-reading less than ever before. This means we are gaining our knowledge through headlines—clickbait headlines. Our opinions and convictions are being shaped by words designed not to convey truth, but to generate clicks.
A recent headline includes the word “lunatic” in a story about North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. By the time we read the first word of the article, we’ve already fixed in our minds that we are reading about a man who has a mental illness or who, at least, acts in rash and irrational ways. But is it possible that he is acting thoughtfully and deliberately, even if very wrongly? It’s far more intimidating to consider that he is cold and calculating in his anger and threats than that he is a mere madman. He may be a lunatic, but we must not assume it just because a headline said so. We will read the news and understand the world very differently if we believe he is truly insane.
A new headline from Canada’s Maclean’s magazine is titled “Donald Trump’s mixed-up, muddled-up, make-believe economy.” Again, the headline is compelling and clickable. Eyeballs will land on their ads. But is President Trump’s economy mixed-up, muddled-up, and make-believe? Maybe, maybe not. But for it to be so and for you to believe it, the article needs to prove it, not simply the headline declare it. If we are in the habit of only reading headlines, of making headlines our source of information, we will have our opinions changed too quickly and on the basis of too little information.
It’s not just the mainstream media that does this. LifeSite News has an article headlined “Liberal actress demands airline punish employees who oppose transgenderism.” It tells how Lena Dunham complained to American Airlines that she heard two of their employees making remarks she considered transphobic. But there’s no indication that she demanded they be punished. She questioned the airline’s standards of practice, but nothing more. Many people will click the headline and get their eyeballs on the 11 banner ads it contains. But if they do more than skim, they’ll soon see the article does not prove the headline. It may fit the site’s narrative and entertain its readers, but it does not tell the truth.
And then there are Christian discernment bloggers out there. They, too, are dependent upon headlines to tell their story and make you click. And some of them, too, tell half-lies in order to get your eyeballs on their ads. They, too, make their money whether you read or skim.
And so it goes in an attention economy in which human attention is a scarce commodity and banner ads pay the bills. So it goes at a time of media gluttony, when we skim much but ponder little. As people of the Truth, we bear double responsibility to ensure our facts are straight, our knowledge is accurate, our convictions shaped by reality. Today, more than ever, we need to read deeply and consider wisely. Today, more than ever, we cannot allow our opinions to be formed by mere headlines. Until you read the article, don’t believe the headline!
By Jonathan Howe
If you’re on staff at a church or a leader in any way, you likely interact with volunteers on a daily basis. And unfortunately, you’re probably not sitting on an endless supply of volunteers. It’s quite possible that you’re looking for people every week to fill a hole left by a volunteer who’s sick, out of town, or unreliable.
But is it possible that you could be running off volunteers? With some of the emails, letters, and communications I’ve seen from churches over the years, it’s entirely possible. Poor communication can cost you volunteers and church members. That’s why it’s important to avoid these communications blunders.
- Calling a volunteer the wrong name. I had a friend who was approached recently about a new job. She was extremely qualified and really interested in it, but in her reply, she called the person wanting to hire her the wrong name. She never heard back from him, and the company hired someone else. The same goes for almost any other aspect of life. If you call a volunteer by the wrong name, you risk losing them.
- Using poor grammar and spelling. Always have a second set of eyes look at ministry communications or announcements. And always read over your emails again before you send them. I even have a delay timer set up in Gmail that gives me 30 seconds after I hit send to make a final edit. I use it almost daily.
- Making it difficult on the volunteer. Want to turn off volunteers? Have trainings at inopportune times. Want to frustrate volunteers? Communicate with them in a way that makes it hard to keep up with the info. There are new communications tools coming out every month. Resist the urge to try the newest and shiniest toys when it comes to communication. Tried and tested methods are often best.
- Waiting until the last minute. Don’t send out important announcements about Sunday morning on Saturday night. Don’t wait until days before a deadline to send a reminder. Give people lead-time and be redundant with your reminders. I guarantee there are people who will completely miss the first 14 emails, but the 15th will catch their eye.
- Not returning calls or emails. If you get a call or email from a church member or volunteer, try to return it within 24 hours if at all possible. Even if it’s a quick email to say you have something else that’s pressing, and it may be a day or two until you have an answer for them.
- Delegating important communication to your assistant. If something in your ministry is important enough for you to communicate it, then you need to be the one it comes from. It’s good to empower your assistant, but important information needs to come from you if at all possible. If it doesn’t, volunteers and members deduce that it’s not a priority for you, so why should it be for them?
What would you add to this list? Have you made any of these blunders?
It's a real condition for folks who find themselves stuck in a cycle of getting in and out of debt
Today’s Kindle deals include a few books you may want to add to your collection.
Once again, we turn to Holland for a warning of the “progress” that comes with the acceptance of assisted suicide.
Iceland is celebrating that they have pretty much eliminated Downs Syndrome. But the way they did so is chilling. (See also this by Joe Carter.)
40 years ago Elvis died, and R.C. Sproul reflected on the event in an early issue of Tabletalk.
This is good: “I’d like to take a stab at naming and disarming several lies often spoken to us through social media, especially in understanding the world around us. In naming these lies, I’m not necessarily advocating giving up on #facetagramsnaptweeting, but encouraging us to wise, careful and limited use.”
“If you want to draw a crowd, preach a sermon series on sex or the end times. There is something in us that longs to know how the end will come. What will the last days look like? How will we know that the end is upon us?”
Here’s an interesting account.
“If you struggle like I do, here is the advice that I would offer– change it up. Instead of choosing one Bible reading plan, choose a strategy for reading the Bible and then change what you are doing when you find yourself getting stale. After all, what matters is not that we are sticking to a plan, but that we are reading the Bible and being changed by it.”
Can you imagine your life without worship? Can you imagine your life without regularly gathering with God’s people to worship him together? It’s worth considering: What would I lose if I lost worship?
You cannot repent too soon, because you do not know how soon it may be too late. —Thomas Fuller
Post columnist Michelle Singletary offers her advice and answers your questions.
I have been in the apostolic movement since the late 1980’s and have observed many kinds of apostolic leaders. By “apostolic” I am referring to a person who functions in the apostolic ministry gift as mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. They may also oversee an apostolic church that exerts great influence in their community, and/or lead a network of churches.
One size definitely doesn’t fit all in the apostolic, or in any of the other ministry gifts for that matter! They all have different modes of operation and/or function as well as different motivational gifts and bents. Of course, any true apostolic leader may have one or more of the following characteristics.
The following are the different kinds of apostolic leaders I have observed:
1. The Connecting Apostle
These apostolic leaders are like the Apostle Barnabas mentioned in the Book of Acts. Barnabas was always connecting people together and was the one responsible for connecting Saul (later on he became the great Apostle Paul) to the Jerusalem church (Acts 9:26-27). These leaders love networking key people together, function with a strong heart of mercy (they give people second and third chances; read Acts 15:37-39), and have an amazing understanding of where to place people for the maximization of their gifts and callings.
This kind of leader also has a burden for unifying the Body of Christ and are adept at creating horizontal networks or associations of leaders in their regions, either for fellowship or to fulfill a joint mission (hence they are usually quite ecumenical).
2. The Truth Apostle
Paul the Apostle focused on teaching the truth and was committed to maturing people in the faith through his teaching ministry (Colossians 1:24-29). These are scholarly leaders who write much and attract people into their networks of influence through their great scholarship and practical insight. They also major on quality, doctrine and developing covenantal systems of engagement within their circles of influence.
What separates these from others with mere theological theory is their ability to form strong coalitions with high-level commitment to fulfilling the Kingdom mandate of spreading the gospel.
3. The Prophetic Apostle
These are intuitive, spontaneous leaders who have an amazing ability to think quickly with words of wisdom from the Lord. They are great visionaries and dreamers and think ahead of the curve and have a great gift of exhortation and/or preaching extemporaneously. With their great gift of motivation, they are able to attract many leaders into their spheres of influence.
4. The Military Apostle
These are like military generals in the Body of Christ who create hierarchical networks with a strong top-down leadership approach. They usually lead strong vertical networks with high commitment and are not really interested in participating in ecumenical associations (unless it fits their particular agenda or they lead it). This is because they are so focused on their purpose and lack patience and grace to work with other strong leaders who have a different view of the church or who do not want to submit to their leadership.
5. The Cultural Apostle
These apostolic leaders attract leaders into their networks because of political/social issues such as traditional marriage, abortion, immigration, social justice and the like. They have a prophetic bent and are also great unifiers of like-minded leaders.
6. The Signs and Wonders Apostle
These apostolic leaders are like the Apostle Peter who spread the gospel by the use of extraordinary signs and wonders through the gift of faith (Acts 5:15). These leaders can draw great crowds, build large churches, and regularly take risks of faith regarding finances, building bigger buildings, as well as helping others walk in the supernatural. They will draw other pastors and leaders into their networks who are hungry for the supernatural.
7. The Community Apostle
These apostolic leaders dive into the economic, social and political lives of their communities with a goal of shepherding their cities, not just a congregation. Many of these leaders create programs that serve their communities with their churches or networks becoming key agents of change for surrounding areas.
8. The Missiological Apostle
This apostolic leader is focused on statistics, trends, demographics and cultural relevance, and helps lead innovative networks and/or organizations that lead the global charge to spread the gospel. They are very scholarly and introspective yet brilliant leaders who are totally focused upon Kingdom expansion for the glory of God. They are great lecturers in conferences and provide a great service for the Body of Christ at large as they, like the sons of Issachar (1 Chronicles 12:32), understand the times and know what the church ought to do.
9. The Shepherding Apostle
This is an apostolic leader who is more focused upon the lives of the leaders of their network than upon having a corporate mission. They have a paternal anointing and take the most joy in washing the feet of their sons and daughters so they fulfill their vision and destiny! This is perhaps the most lacking apostolic leader in the church today since there is a dearth in the church regarding true apostolic spiritual parenting.
10. The Entrepreneurial Apostle
This kind of apostolic leader is a hyphenated leader with a dual ministry of church and business who creates wealth through initiatives that support the work of the Kingdom of God. This kind of entrepreneurial ability attracts many leaders who desire an impartation from them so they can also be prosperous in everything they touch!
11. The Statesman Apostle
This kind of apostolic leader is a very wise person who is able to represent the Kingdom of God to other denominations and those in the political and social realms. They are generally very ecumenical and have a ministry of reconciliation and are sometimes called upon to be peacemakers between opposing groups. These leaders are usually respected by Christian and non-Christian alike and are by nature very ecumenical.
12. The Intercessory Apostle
These apostolic leaders spend much time in prayer and engage in high-level spiritual warfare so light can break through in dark places. They are able to attract enough people to start large organized networks of pastors and leaders who believe their main calling is to expand the Kingdom through prayer and spiritual warfare strategies. What separates these from typical prophetic intercessors is that they not only have a great gift of prayer but also are able to create influential networks of prayer leaders.
In closing, many leaders I know probably stand in about three to four of the categories above. These twelve kinds were written for the sake of clarity but not meant to legalistically confine our thinking in such a way that limits our perspective regarding apostolic leadership. Also, there are probably many other categories others could think of, which would further complicate and mesh various anointing and ministry functions together.
The EPIC trip to Germany continues. Yesterday we toured Wittenberg (where Luther lived, taught, preached, and, of course, nailed those 95 Theses to the door) and today we spent time in Eisleben (where Luther was born and died). As before, click any image to see it larger.
We can’t just stick a Bible on our nightstand or in our pocket and expect to know God better. You need to let his word sink deep in your heart and soul.
We can’t just stick a Bible on our nightstand or in our pocket and expect to know God better. You need to let his word sink deep in your heart and soul.
One-on-One with Author Mark Silk on the Future of Religion, Especially Evangelicalism, in America (Part One)
Evangelicalism is now the normative form of non-Catholic Christianity in America.
Ed: Let’s start with the obvious question since that’s the title of the book: What is the future of Evangelicalism in America?
Mark: I think it’s pretty good as far as religious traditions go in America.
We make the claim that Evangelicalism is now the normative form of non-Catholic Christianity in America. The question that immediately arises, however, is, if that’s so, what are the norms? The contributors to our volume have somewhat divergent views of this.
If we look broadly, we’re talking fundamentally about white Evangelicalism, liturgical styles, a certain kind of approach to worship, and to thinking of oneself in the world. Evangelicalism does count as a broad tradition, which is holding its own in American society.
Ed: When you look at the numbers in terms of Evangelicalism, are the numbers going up, down, or remaining flat?
Mark: I like the approach that our sociologists and demographers take, which is to ask people to identify themselves rather than giving people a list of things to choose among. This approach is found in the series that we call the American Religious Identification Survey, or ARIS. One of the interesting things that emerged from that is the substantial shift between 1990 and the last ARIS survey, which was, unfortunately, almost a decade ago. Nonetheless, I think it still holds from the decline of people who identify themselves as Protestant and the great increase in the number who identify as just ‘Christian’ (a term for general Evangelical).
One of the interesting things we discovered is that a lot of people, including Catholics, will say they consider themselves Evangelical or born again, which is the political polling question.
Nobody who writes about this ...
America is in very bad shape right now. We are deeply divided along many lines, and some of our most fundamental freedoms are under attack. We have massive national debt, we are enslaved to an ever-growing list of carnal passions, and we are increasingly self-centered, distracted and superficial. Yet there is hope for America—and I say this as a realist, not a starry-eyed optimist.
Really now, are we as divided today as we were immediately before, during and after the Civil War? Is it even fair to compare?
The secession movement had been growing in the South before the election of Abraham Lincoln, and once he was in office, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Texas left the union. That's what you call deep division.
As for the toll of the Civil War itself, consider these devastating statistics.
The population of the USA in 1860 was 31,443,321, less than one-tenth what it is today, yet roughly 620,000 soldiers died in the Civil War. In today's terms, that would amount to more than 6 million Americans killed in a single military conflict.
That is pain on a level that we can hardly relate to. That is national agony.
Not only so, but those 620,000 soldiers who died in the Civil War represent almost half of all Americans killed in all the wars we have ever fought – including World Wars I and II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, our conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and other wars.
And even then, there's a massive difference in the total number of Americans lost in battle. In the Civil War, it was Americans killing Americans, in some cases, with members of the same family on opposite sides of the conflict. Who can fathom such deadly division?
Why can't we emerge from the current division stronger than before?
There's no denying that, in many ways, our nation is in a spiritual and moral freefall, and the America of today is far less family-friendly and innocent than it was just 50-60 years ago. (For a graphic illustration of this, see here.)
But when it comes to race relations and equal opportunity, would you rather be alive today or in the days of segregation? Surely we are closer to seeing the realization of Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech today than we were when he delivered it in 1963.
Or consider the pro-life movement. How much hope was there in the immediate aftermath of Roe v. Wade? How much unity was there, how much courage, how much fresh strategy? Today, pro-abortion activists are genuinely fearful that Roe v. Wade could be overturned, and state after state is standing up for the cause of life.
This is not for a moment to minimize our horrific guilt in the slaughter of more than 55 million babies. It simply reminds us that we have valid cause for hope for the days ahead.
In 2016, while spending some time in prayer one morning, I heard a quiet internal voice say, "Write a book on the fall and rise of America."
Really? The fall and rise of America, not the rise and fall of America?
For years now, I have been documenting our nation's moral and spiritual decline, focusing in particular on cultural issues for the last decade-plus. Have our families ever been in worse shape? Did we ever have to defend something as simple as male-female distinctions?
As far back as 1973-74, as a teenager preaching my first sermons, I talked about the critical days in which we lived while still believing in the possibility of national awakening. But to write about our nation's fall and rise? Isn't that a bit much?
It was in response to that internal leading that I wrote Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Reformation, and I plan to share more about this next month when the book is released.
For the moment, though, let me say these four things.
First, to repeat, as dire as our current situation is, all is not lost and there are grounds for hope for a better tomorrow.
Second, the deeper the darkness, the greater the need for the light to shine. That's why the last chapter of my new book, which is filled with examples from our history, is titled "The Church's Great Opportunity."
Third, the answer lies with us, God's people, those who love Him and know that His ways are best. While every American can work for the betterment of our country, from devout atheist to fervent believer, I am convinced that the only true healing for our nation lies in the gospel. It is a message of life, of transformation and of liberty.
Fourth, while it may be impossible to find a human solution to the crises we face, all things are possible with God, and He desires to redeem us, not destroy us.
And that's why I say that there is hope for America. He hasn't destroyed us yet.
Although I don’t mention groups like this by name in this column, your nephew is right. This group claims to believe in the Bible, but it adds its own teachings to the Bible, and denies what the Bible says at crucial points. The Bible itself warns that “in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits” (1 Timothy 4:1).
I don’t doubt the sincerity of those who are pursuing you; they’re convinced that their group is right and everyone else is wrong. Cults can be very aggressive, and experience shows that often the only solution for someone in your position is to tell them directly they are no longer welcome. The more you discuss with them, the more you open the door to further contacts.
Elsewhere in your letter, you acknowledge that you and your husband have never thought much about God, and I sense you have a hunger in your heart to know Him. Don’t let that hunger go unsatisfied! Instead, turn to Jesus Christ and ask Him to come into your lives. He came from Heaven to save us by His death and resurrection, and He alone can satisfy the deepest hunger of our hearts. Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find” (Matthew 7:7).
Then ask God to lead you to a church where you can learn more about Christ and what it means to follow Him. Don’t be misled, but discover the joy of knowing you belong to Christ—now, and forever.