Articles related to Discipleship


When Will U.S. Christianity Heed Its Wakeup Call?
When Will U.S. Christianity Heed Its Wakeup Call?

By: Jerry A. Hudson
Few Christians want to follow Jesus' counterintuitive teachings on living spiritually in the world. With U.S. Christianity so entrenched in politics over the last three decades, it's time for a wakeup call.

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If You Want to Change, Start With Your Character
If You Want to Change, Start With Your Character

By: Guy Sayles
Some things you can't change about yourself, but others you can. What provides the energy for change? It's the creative tension between who we are and who we will be. And we have no better model than Jesus.

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What Astronauts Can Teach All of Us About Big Picture
What Astronauts Can Teach All of Us About Big Picture

By: Michael Ruffin
Astronauts have a unique perspective. They've seen the Earth from space, where all the things that divide us aren't visible. If only the rest of us could see the world and its people as one.

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The Single Ingredient You Need to Trigger Change
The Single Ingredient You Need to Trigger Change

By: Guy Sayles
Some folks believe people can't change. While change is possible, it can be extremely difficult. You can't do it on our own. You need an emotional-spiritual energy from beyond yourself. Check out what it is.

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10 Personal, Professional Goals for 2018 - More or Less
10 Personal, Professional Goals for 2018 - More or Less

By: Barry Howard
It's a new year, a time for clean slates and new beginnings. What are your goals for 2018? Here are 10 personal and professional goals for you to target for the new year. Check out No. 6.

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Spiritual Reflections on 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'
Spiritual Reflections on 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi'

By: Ircel Harrison
The latest Star Wars chapter, "The Last Jedi," is an entertaining visual treat that offers some spiritual reflections for Christians. Keeping the spoilers to a minimum, here are a few of them.

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Why God Isn't Calling You to Change the World - Part 2
Why God Isn't Calling You to Change the World - Part 2

By: Rupen Das
Human society will never escape the problem of the equitable distribution of the physical and cultural good, which provides for the preservation and fulfillment of human life. Yet God will bring transformation.

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Why God Isn't Calling You to Change the World - Part 1
Why God Isn't Calling You to Change the World - Part 1

By: Rupen Das
We want to change the world. While transformation is a valid biblical concept, it is God who transforms and invites us into partnership. Nowhere in Scripture are we called to transform the world.

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Do You Have the Courage To Be a Change Agent?
Do You Have the Courage To Be a Change Agent?

By: Chris Smith
It's not easy to be different. As you witness injustice around you, you must find the courage to follow the Spirit and take that road less traveled. That's the way to bring about change.

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10 Commandments for Welcoming Guests to Your Church
10 Commandments for Welcoming Guests to Your Church

By: Joe LaGuardia
Every church needs to learn how to greet guests and be the welcoming community Christ calls us to be. Yet this skill does not come naturally to churches. Here are 10 great tips to help, especially No. 5.

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This Represents the Biggest Threat to Your Decency
This Represents the Biggest Threat to Your Decency

By: Ron Rolheiser
How you regard the least of these in society - the poor, the accused, the incarcerated and so on - reflects your decency. Treat them poorly, and you corrupt your own decency. There's no neutral ground.

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Why Some People Feel Cold or Indifferent to Your Church
Why Some People Feel Cold or Indifferent to Your Church

By: Ron Rolheiser
Many people seem cold or indifferent to Christianity and our churches, but it may be because no one has invited them. Too often, churches decide who has access, preferring to close the gate rather than the distance.

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'I'm Just Not Angry Enough to Fit in with Christians'
'I'm Just Not Angry Enough to Fit in with Christians'

By: Mark Tidsworth
Far too many people in our culture, when their conversation turns to Christianity, perceive Christians as really angry. They don't believe they're angry enough to fit in, but God's not angry like that.

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'Only When It's Dark Enough Can We See The Stars'
'Only When It's Dark Enough Can We See The Stars'

By: Ginger Hughes
Violence, hatred and bigotry seems to be increasing. You may believe you can't do anything to change it. Failure doesn't occur because we're unable to reach millions; failure happens when we aren't a light for one.

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How to Make Your Sunday School a Source for Evangelism
How to Make Your Sunday School a Source for Evangelism

By: Tony Brooks
Sunday school in many churches is often a time of fellowship for Christians, but originally it was a means of evangelism. Sunday school can be about evangelism again if we're willing to build relationships.

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What's Your Legacy? Great Achievements or Fruitfulness
What's Your Legacy? Great Achievements or Fruitfulness

By: Ron Rolheiser
We all want to achieve great things in our lives. It gives us a good feeling and makes our families proud of us. Great achievements, however, don't necessarily make for great fruitfulness.

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Are You Bothered That You're Not Bothered to Pray?
Are You Bothered That You're Not Bothered to Pray?

By: Shannon Youell
People all around us are drowning in judgment, rejection and marginalization. If someone asked if the struggles in our communities bothered us, we would say that we were. But how much does it bother us?

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5 Steps to Transform Your Church into Disciple Developers
5 Steps to Transform Your Church into Disciple Developers

By: Mark Tidsworth
A central purpose of Christian churches is to develop people into disciple of Jesus, but our programs and events often aren't effective at achieving this goal. Here is a 5-step process to transform your church.

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'You Pack What You Fear'
'You Pack What You Fear'

By: Greg DeLoach
As you hike life's trail, fears are a heavy burden weighing down your backpack. All of us pack what we fear. It's time to take a few things out of your pack and trust that you can carry on in this life's trek without them.

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Your Words Are Powerful; Use Them to Build Up
Your Words Are Powerful; Use Them to Build Up

By: Matt Sapp
Because words have a unique power, you should use them wisely. Use them to affirm, support, encourage and love. Use them generously in your relationships and with your emotions.

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5 Things to Consider Before You Quit Your Church
5 Things to Consider Before You Quit Your Church

By: Mark Tidsworth
Many reasons and motives exist for changing churches, but frequently we should stay. If you're on the verge of walking away from your church for good, here are 5 things to consider before you close that door.

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When Churches Appreciate Their Unity in Diversity
When Churches Appreciate Their Unity in Diversity

By: Danny Chisholm
Even though some churches have political or theological litmus tests, we should always appreciate our unity in diversity. We can sit in the same pews and worship the same God even if we have different views.

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Why Debating the Bible is Good for Your Soul
Why Debating the Bible is Good for Your Soul

By: Joe LaGuardia
Many U.S. Christians avoid debating Scripture at all costs. Instead, they become echo chambers, allowing the nightly news to shape their theology more than the good news of Jesus.

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5 Ways Your Church Can Keep Families Together
5 Ways Your Church Can Keep Families Together

By: Christina Embree
Many churches want to find ways to incorporate more times for families to stay together in worship, but these congregations don't know where to start. Here are 5 ways your church can make it happen.

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Virtue Ethics: Building Disciples with Character - Part 3
Virtue Ethics: Building Disciples with Character - Part 3

By: Gordon King
The Christian church faces a challenge in rethinking the virtues that God requires for our mission and witness in today's wounded world. Here are 5 thoughts on how the development of virtues impacts the church.

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Why the World Needs More Thoughtful Christians
Why the World Needs More Thoughtful Christians

By: Nathan Napier
Jesus' message may be simple, but Christians shouldn't be simple thinkers. We need more thoughtful Christians who can balance faith and reason outside the echo chambers of their churches or traditions.

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Virtue Ethics: Building Disciples with Character - Part 2
Virtue Ethics: Building Disciples with Character - Part 2

By: Gordon King
Christians aren't the owners of virtue ethics. We must see other perspectives on virtue and the need to enter into dialogue with people who are sincere in their desire to be people of integrity.

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Virtue Ethics: Building Disciples with Character - Part 1
Virtue Ethics: Building Disciples with Character - Part 1

By: Gordon King
Virtue ethics offers a distinct approach to moral issues by concentrating on the formation of character rather than the provision of rules. Here are 5 observations.

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Why Did Church Stop Being a Place to be Vulnerable?
Why Did Church Stop Being a Place to be Vulnerable?

By: Brent McDougal
God created the church so that we would bear one another's burdens and be vulnerable ourselves, but that's not how most churches work. Church is often the last place that someone can admit they need help.

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Why Some Church Members Need to Go to Arabia
Why Some Church Members Need to Go to Arabia

By: Bill Wilson
Much of what we call faith and commitment is actually a thin veneer of religious ritualism that wilts at the first hint of stress. A cure exists for this self-absorbed faith: You need to go to Arabia.

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Choosing Which God (or Beliefs) You Will Serve
Choosing Which God (or Beliefs) You Will Serve

By: Colin Harris
When issues divide communities of faith today, we must decide whether the appeal of culture's gods and the power of long-held beliefs will be obstacles to the call to community.

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Barna: Southern U.S. Cities Remain Most 'Bible-Minded'
Barna: Southern U.S. Cities Remain Most 'Bible-Minded'

By: EthicsDaily Staff
The most "Bible-minded" U.S. cities continue to be located in the south, a Barna Group report found. Four of the five least Bible-minded cities were in the northeast and remained unchanged from 2016.

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What Orthodox Culture Can Teach You About Grief
What Orthodox Culture Can Teach You About Grief

By: Paul Beasley-Murray
Grieving is a complex process and is different for each one of us. The Orthodox culture's approach to the grief process can offer some practical help to Western Christians struggling with the loss of a loved one.

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Gospel's 'Miracle Message' Frees Ingrained Thinking
Gospel's 'Miracle Message' Frees Ingrained Thinking

By: Colin Harris
It's difficult, if not impossible, for people steeped in certain beliefs and attitudes, such as racism, to escape the chains of those beliefs to see the world a different way. But the gospel can transform are ingrained thinking.

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Which Comes First? Church, Mission or Discipleship
Which Comes First? Church, Mission or Discipleship

By: Stuart Blythe
In some circles, debate swirls around which is most important - church, mission or discipleship. However, the three belong in an integrated relationship where none can really claim the priority.

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How Your Church Benefits from Planning Liturgy
How Your Church Benefits from Planning Liturgy

By: Molly T. Marshall
Worship is not for spectators. It's more than the regular work of the choir, musicians and pastoral staff. When churches observe the Christian year, they open up space for creative artistry in all the congregants.

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Why National Day of Prayer is More Urgent Than Ever
Why National Day of Prayer is More Urgent Than Ever

By: Karen Bullock
As we Americans learn of the volatile events of our world, we know that if there was ever a time for us as a nation to bow the heart and knees before God in prayer, it is now. Here are four ways to do that.

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A Seder Dinner Reminder: Only God Can Free Us
A Seder Dinner Reminder: Only God Can Free Us

By: Sara Powell
A Seder dinner at a friend's home offered a reminder that the story of God's chosen people is not an easy one. As the Israelites were in bondage, so are all of us enslaved. And only God can ultimately free us.

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Building Up Church Members To Take On Ministry
Building Up Church Members To Take On Ministry

By: Sharon Prior
Many congregations expect their ministry staff to do almost everything, but hopefully those days are coming to an end. Ministers must develop a culture that helps members align their gifts with roles in the church.

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5 Smart Ideas to Incorporate Smartphones in Ministry
5 Smart Ideas to Incorporate Smartphones in Ministry

By: Renee Embree
Are smartphones a distraction in your youth group or ministry? These five suggestions can help you appropriately and creatively incorporate them into your ministry.

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How Your Church Can Transform From Tepid to Robust
How Your Church Can Transform From Tepid to Robust

By: Mark Tidsworth
Some church leaders desire to keep as many people happy as often as possible, but this leads to a watered-down, tepid religion. Here's what your church needs to do to become a robust congregation.

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What Will You Do With Your 'One Wild and Precious Life'?
What Will You Do With Your 'One Wild and Precious Life'?

By: Molly T. Marshall
Mary Oliver's poem, "The Summer Day," poses the question: "What do you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" The wild and precious life of Jesus beckons us to allow transfiguration in our lives.

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In Our Tumultuous Society, Hear Wisdom's Quiet Voice
In Our Tumultuous Society, Hear Wisdom's Quiet Voice

By: Colin Harris
While the prophet calls us to speak up and be heard, often boldly in the face of threat and opposition, wisdom has a quieter call to live a certain way in the ordinary, everyday moments and circumstances.

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Can Christians Model Peace in World of Hostility?
Can Christians Model Peace in World of Hostility?

By: Colin Harris
In our current climate of hostility, is there a way for a faith perspective to be peaceful while being a responsible participant in efforts to bring faith to bear on crucial issues that divide us?

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To Combat Hate, Churches Must Be Extremists for Love
To Combat Hate, Churches Must Be Extremists for Love

By: Mark Tidsworth
Perhaps the most disturbing development in 2016 was watching the forces, rhetoric and actions of hate escalate. To deal with the hate movement, churches need to become love extremists.

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How Well Does Your Church Develop Disciples?
How Well Does Your Church Develop Disciples?

By: Mark Tidsworth
Churches are tasked with developing human beings into disciples of Jesus, in collaboration with the Holy Spirit. Is your church aware of and focused on this unique and clear calling to help believers walk the walk?

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Does Your Church Need a Recombobulation Area?
Does Your Church Need a Recombobulation Area?

By: Bill Wilson
Going through airport security can leave people discombobulated. Similarly, many congregations are discombobulated by the challenges of being a 21st century church. We need a recombobulation area.

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6 Ways You Can Cultivate More Diverse Relationships
6 Ways You Can Cultivate More Diverse Relationships

By: Brent McDougal
In an already divided America, it's harder to cultivate relationships with people from different ethnic, political and social groups. Here are 6 ways you can turn that around.

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Embodying the Only Story That Really Matters
Embodying the Only Story That Really Matters

By: Jim Kelsey
During Advent, we reflect upon the moment when the story of God's love went from being related to us to actually being embodied among us. And we are to embody this story that has so captured us.

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Do You Need a Fresh Supply of Hope? Just Ask
Do You Need a Fresh Supply of Hope? Just Ask

By: Molly T. Marshall
Like breathing itself, hope is an intrinsic practice that sustains life. Hope helps us see beyond the present limitations and craft a different narrative for the future.

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6 Lessons Your Church Can Learn from Sea Glass
6 Lessons Your Church Can Learn from Sea Glass

By: Bill Wilson
Pounded by the waves and roiled in the sand and stones, ordinary glass bottles and containers wash up on beaches, transformed into pieces of art. And they offer six illustrations for what it means to be the church.

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Churches Needed That Are Highly Aware of Their Calling
Churches Needed That Are Highly Aware of Their Calling

By: Mark Tidsworth
Whether we recognize it or not, Christians are declaring with every word and action 24/7 what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. We can no longer neglect our calling and expect to be relevant.

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7 Actions That Will Nurture Your Distracted Soul
7 Actions That Will Nurture Your Distracted Soul

By: Matt Sapp
Constant updates. 24/7 cable news. Alerts on our smartphones. This information overload hits all of us. Distractedness is killing our souls, but you can take steps to turn it around.

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What the Bible Says About Intergenerational Ministry
What the Bible Says About Intergenerational Ministry

By: Christina Embree
Intergenerational ministry is not a new craze. It's a practice that dates back to Christianity's origins. While age-appropriate ministry still has value, we can find ways to both in our churches.

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Why You Have Two Hearts and Two Minds
Why You Have Two Hearts and Two Minds

By: Ron Rolheiser
People are both big-hearted and petty, open-minded and bigoted, trusting and suspicious, saint and narcissist, warm and cold. The question is to which heart and mind are you linked?

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Amish Grace: The Only Option for Jesus' Followers
Amish Grace: The Only Option for Jesus' Followers

By: Leroy Seat
Ten years ago, a man entered an Amish school and shot 10 girls, killing five and leaving one with a severe brain injury. The Amish community's response of grace and forgiveness is a lesson for all.

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You Don't Realize How Weird Church Is
You Don't Realize How Weird Church Is

By: Nick Lear
Most adults in churches have grown so used to what we do that we don't realize how weird church is for the vast majority of people, even more so for children and young people. And many of them leave when they're adults.

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Many Christians Obsessed with Keeping Up Appearances
Many Christians Obsessed with Keeping Up Appearances

By: Mitch Randall
The techniques of a capitalistic marketplace have penetrated the church and are instilled in many Christians' everyday lives. In our efforts to keep up appearances, we're lying to ourselves and to God.

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Should Christians Wash Their Linen in Public?
Should Christians Wash Their Linen in Public?

By: Stuart Blythe
Social media reveals that Christians viscerally hold different views on ethical issues. However, we must find other places to express those differences than only social media. Maybe church is a good place to start.

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Should You Stop Using the Term 'Disciple'?
Should You Stop Using the Term 'Disciple'?

By: Paul Beasley-Murray
The word 'disciple' occurs frequently in the Gospel and Acts, but not in the letters of Peter, Paul, James or John. A disciple represents an individual, but the plural of disciple is church.

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Why the Bible Isn't Your Instruction Manual
Why the Bible Isn't Your Instruction Manual

By: Nick Lear
When seeking how to approach life's complexities, do you read the Bible looking for answers or for wisdom? It may seem like an esoteric exercise in semantics, but your answer reflects how you approach life.

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Which Set of Questions Best Defines Your Church?
Which Set of Questions Best Defines Your Church?

By: Mark Tidsworth
When it comes to church, there are driving questions behind and underneath everything we do. Of these two question sets - one foundational, the other organizational - which one drives your church?

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Church Isn't the Place to Avoid Hard Questions
Church Isn't the Place to Avoid Hard Questions

By: Logan Carpenter
Sometimes, church seems like a place where we skirt around hard questions of our faith. Instead, churches should welcome questions, explore what Scripture says and admit when we don't know the answer.

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When You Struggle to Love Your Neighbor
When You Struggle to Love Your Neighbor

By: Ron Rolheiser
We are good-hearted people, but if we're honest, we find it hard to love our neighbors. We don't turn the other cheek or love our enemies. We struggle, mostly unsuccessfully, to wish our enemies well.

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Spiritual Fitness Tracker: How to Get Your '10,000 Steps'
Spiritual Fitness Tracker: How to Get Your '10,000 Steps'

By: David Hull
Personal fitness trackers are in demand and are a great way to measure our fitness goals to reach 10,000 daily steps. What if you could wear a spiritual fitness tracker? What would it measure?

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During Turmoil, Modern-Day Prophets are Guiding Lights
During Turmoil, Modern-Day Prophets are Guiding Lights

By: Matt Sapp
Biblical prophets provided historical context and perspective to the passionate concerns of the day. During our tumultuous times, who are your modern-day prophets?

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Even Adults Can Learn From the Children's Message
Even Adults Can Learn From the Children's Message

By: Christina Embree
While age-appropriate ministry within the church is necessary and valuable, children and adults can still learn together in church. After all, even adults can learn something from the children's sermon.

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"Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future"

By: Neville Callam
Steve Harmon's new book, "Baptist Identity and the Ecumenical Future," calls for the kind of receptive ecumenism without which the church can hardly be fully the church.

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Why Churches Must Take the Right Kind of Risks
Why Churches Must Take the Right Kind of Risks

By: Jerrod Hugenot
Taking risks can be good. When churches feel more like circling the wagons than trying anything approaching adaptive change, it shows throughout their ministry and the way they share the gospel.

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6 Ways Your Church or Ministry Can Flourish
6 Ways Your Church or Ministry Can Flourish

By: Renée Embree
Growing your church or ministry is good. It's not all about the numbers but about helping people know the God who loves them. Here are 6 ways your church or ministry can begin to flourish.

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Changing Our Focus from What's Wrong to What's Right
Changing Our Focus from What's Wrong to What's Right

By: Christina Embree
We often start conversations with what's wrong with society. Instead, what if we focused on God's goodness? We don't have to ignore what's wrong, but we need to change the conversation's tone.

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Who's in Your Church? Members or Disciples?
Who's in Your Church? Members or Disciples?

By: Mark Tidsworth
Over the centuries, as church and culture and government blended, the word "member" took on a new meaning in church life. Members focus on rights and privileges. Members volunteer; disciples serve.

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The Role of Individual Volition in Moral Formation
The Role of Individual Volition in Moral Formation

By: Stuart Blythe
Four interdependent areas contribute to moral formation. Individual volition is at the core of such formation. For Christian moral formation, it's the individual will in relationship to God.

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Do You Accept All of Christ or Just Part of Him?
Do You Accept All of Christ or Just Part of Him?

By: Larry Eubanks
Many Christians accept the basics of Christianity but still reject Jesus' overall teachings. They advocate violence toward enemies, do little to help the poor and discriminate against foreigners and minorities.

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Parents Not Alone When It Comes to Discipling Children
Parents Not Alone When It Comes to Discipling Children

By: Christina Embree
Parents have a significant influence on their children, but it's not exclusively a parent's job to disciple their children. It is corporately the church's role to disciple children.

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The Source of Lasting Peace: God's Love and Grace
The Source of Lasting Peace: God's Love and Grace

By: Robert Guffey
In the swift stream of our times, we all seek a lasting peace. There's only one source. It's the love and grace of God, which will open the doorway to heaven on earth and fill your life with the gladness of God.

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Bringing Back the Bible to Our Churches
Bringing Back the Bible to Our Churches

By: Paul Beasley-Murray
The reading of the Scriptures had been downgraded in our churches and our homes. Our congregations are becoming increasingly biblically illiterate. Therefore, we need to bring back the Bible to church.

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How the Cross Fixes Us
How the Cross Fixes Us

By: Matt Sapp
The churchyard cross has seen better days. While it may need fixing, the cross actually fixes us. It reminds us that God's peace is stronger than war and God's love stronger than hatred.

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Praying and Doing: Getting the Balance Right
Praying and Doing: Getting the Balance Right

By: Colin Sedgwick
Some Christians wouldn't dream of missing a service; ask them to do some work, and they won't be found. Others are eager activists, but they neglect to nurture their souls. The trick is getting the balance right.

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3 Questions to Ask as You Study the Bible
3 Questions to Ask as You Study the Bible

By: Joe LaGuardia
Scripture tells us that it is good to meditate on God's Word, but how do we dig into its teachings? The next time you study a Bible passage, ask yourself these three questions.

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Being Christian Doesn't Mean Being Against Islam
Being Christian Doesn't Mean Being Against Islam

By: Arthur Brown
Being Christian and being Muslim are not the same. We don't have identical understandings of the God we worship. However, Christians can reject the bigotry of judging others and build bridges of respect.

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5 Things to Quit to Discover God's Future for You
5 Things to Quit to Discover God's Future for You

By: Matt Sapp
Quitting gets a bad rap. We equate quitters with losers. However, it's actually a very Christian thing to do. Consider quitting some of these things, and you'll have more room for something else.

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How You Can Survive the Agony of 10 Painful Words
How You Can Survive the Agony of 10 Painful Words

By: Bill Wilson
Ten words - and they're not the only such words - cause heartbreak, pain and betrayal in peoples' lives. But the Bible with its incredibly honest and sobering view of life declares these words will not win.

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4 Reasons People Don't Want to Attend Church
4 Reasons People Don't Want to Attend Church

By: Robert Guffey
Most people don't go to church for one of four reasons. If Christians are to reach people for Christ, especially those for whom God and church are not important, we are going to have to do it through love.

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How Christian Ethics Guide Cultural Engagement
How Christian Ethics Guide Cultural Engagement

By: Guy Sayles
Faith communities make it either more or less likely that people will be able to live out their faith. You can't nurture peacemakers in a community that uses attack as its main way of relating to culture.

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3 Questions Before You Leave Your Church Youth Group
3 Questions Before You Leave Your Church Youth Group

By: Greg Mamula
If a church isn't meeting your child's needs, should you leave in order to find a church that's more entertaining or dynamic? Before you do, consider these three questions.

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Presto! 5 Things Christians Can Learn from Magicians
Presto! 5 Things Christians Can Learn from Magicians

By: Nick Lear
A performance by a master magician can be an evening filled with surprises and entertainment. However, magicians can provide thought-provoking lessons for Christians. Here are five of them.

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Jesus: Uncool, Untrendy, Difficult to Follow
Jesus: Uncool, Untrendy, Difficult to Follow

By: Michael Shaw
Why can't Jesus be cool? The truth is: We don't want Jesus to truly impact our lives. We don't actually want to carry a cross; we want all the bits of Christianity that we like, but none of the stuff that makes it hard.

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Are You Living Up to Your Smile?
Are You Living Up to Your Smile?

By: Greg DeLoach
We are far too guarded with our smiles. In a world deafened by traffic noises, acerbic political discourse and mean-spirited exchanges, we need more smiles of kindness.

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Survey: Southern U.S. Most
Survey: Southern U.S. Most "Bible-Minded"

By: EthicsDaily Staff
The most "Bible-minded" cities are found in the southern United States, the Barna Research Group found. The annual survey found all of the top 10 cities were located below the Mason-Dixon Line.

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Why We Think We Know Whom God Blesses
Why We Think We Know Whom God Blesses

By: Larry Eubanks
In almost all religions, there are those who are recipients of God's favor, and those who aren't. The problem is that we think we know who the blessed ones are and who they are not.

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Suffering from Too Much Ceremonial Christianity
Suffering from Too Much Ceremonial Christianity

By: John Pierce
The United States is plagued with 'ceremonial Christianity,' which baptizes national allegiance and political ideologies in the language of faith. And Jesus' teaching is lost in the process.

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What Jesus Wants from Us More Than Worship
What Jesus Wants from Us More Than Worship

By: Griff Martin
We're pretty good at worshipping Jesus, but he desires more from us. He desires obedience. In other words, imitating his life, taking his teachings and living and making them our teachings and livings.

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When Speaking the Truth Isn't Always Appropriate
When Speaking the Truth Isn't Always Appropriate

By: Ron Rolheiser
Having the truth is one thing, speaking it in a place and a manner that's helpful is quite another. Simply put, it isn't always helpful or charitable or mature to throw a truth into someone's face.

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You Have an Invitation to Join Slow Club
You Have an Invitation to Join Slow Club

By: Logan Carpenter
We're well into the Christmas season. Squished in with hope, joy and peace are parties, shopping, obligations, family gatherings and more. Know what you need? An invitation to the Slow Club.

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Finding the Beauty While Living In-Between Addresses
Finding the Beauty While Living In-Between Addresses

By: Greg DeLoach
We're all living in-between addresses. It is not where you are from or even where you are going that matters most, but where you are right now. And Advent reminds us of that.

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When the Bible Speaks, Do We Hear What We Want?
When the Bible Speaks, Do We Hear What We Want?

By: Philip Jenkins
Does the Bible speak? If so, how? Human beings are very good at reading into a text what they want to get out of it. We see things not as they are, but as we are.

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Commitment to Discipleship Practices Low, Despite Desire for Spiritual Growth
Commitment to Discipleship Practices Low, Despite Desire for Spiritual Growth

By: EthicsDaily Staff
The desire for spiritual growth among Christians is not translating into significant commitment to practices facilitating this development, a survey finds.

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Nature's Lesson: Don't Rush Through Life
Nature's Lesson: Don't Rush Through Life

By: Chuck Summers
Nature has its own pace and doesn't tend to rush things. We could learn something from nature. Our rush through life keeps us from experiencing what God has in mind for us here and now.

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Why Many Christians Prefer to 'Get By' as Disciples
Why Many Christians Prefer to 'Get By' as Disciples

By: Nick Lear
Many Christians approach discipleship with this attitude: What's the minimum I have to do to get by? Instead, we should offer our lives as "living sacrifices by striving for excellence in whatever we do.

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When the Bible 'Clearly' Says Something
When the Bible 'Clearly' Says Something

By: Larry Eubanks
Interpreting Scripture is a wonderfully complicated endeavor because the Bible is a complex compilation of literature. Even when a verse has a clear meaning, there may be more we need to know.

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How You Can End the Us-vs.-Them War
How You Can End the Us-vs.-Them War

By: Elizabeth Evans Hagan
We love a good game of us vs. them. We stake the claim of the divide with no possibility of middle ground. But what happens when you get to know a "them," and they become more like an "us"?

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3 Spiritual Habits You Can Pass on to Your Children
3 Spiritual Habits You Can Pass on to Your Children

By: Christina Embree
Not only are your kids watching you, but they are also copying you. Like a serious game of "Simon Says," your children are learning what is normal in life by watching your actions.

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How Your Church is Like a New Operating System
How Your Church is Like a New Operating System

By: Randy Hyde
Downloading a new operating system to your computer mirrors church life. Our old way of doing things is comfortable and familiar, but doing God's work requires time, effort and exploring the unfamiliar.

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Martha and Mary: Two Sides of Christian Discipleship
Martha and Mary: Two Sides of Christian Discipleship

By: James Gordon
Martha often gets the short end of the stick in the biblical account where Jesus visits Martha and Mary. But these women represent the two sides of discipleship - ministering to others and devotion to God.

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Why Church Disciple Programs Yield Religious Bullies
Why Church Disciple Programs Yield Religious Bullies

By: Larry Eubanks
Most churches have religious bullies, and they're often our leaders. They do everything our discipleship programs tell them they should do - and yet they can be the meanest persons you'll ever meet. Why?

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4 Ways to Help Your Teens Navigate Social Media
4 Ways to Help Your Teens Navigate Social Media

By: Christina Embree
Social media has a huge impact on teens, with some checking their social media accounts 100 times per day. But parents can take some practical steps to help their kids navigate the digital world.

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These 3 Steps Will Embolden Your Prayer Life
These 3 Steps Will Embolden Your Prayer Life

By: Matt Sapp
The problem for a lot of us isn't that we don't want to pray, but that we don't know what to pray for, and we're not sure what to say. Check out these three suggestions to pray more boldly.

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Intergenerational Worship Can Anchor Your Church's Youth
Intergenerational Worship Can Anchor Your Church's Youth

By: Christina Embree
Young people often leave church because they have no connection to the larger church body. While there's no magic bullet, intergenerational worship can provide that link.

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Show Your Love for God by Meeting Others' Needs
Show Your Love for God by Meeting Others' Needs

By: Ron Rolheiser
We too easily and too frequently get the wrong focus befitting both Christian discipleship and human maturity. For the main part, our own salvation will take care of itself if we focus on the needs of others.

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Like Docked Ship, Some Christians Safe But Not Sound
Like Docked Ship, Some Christians Safe But Not Sound

By: Larry Eubanks
A docked ship is safe, but that doesn't mean it's sound or seaworthy. Like that ship, many Christians feel safe about going to Heaven but that doesn't mean their behavior is sound.

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4 Elements of Genuine Worship
4 Elements of Genuine Worship

By: Drew Smith
The strongest obstacle to the life-changing experience of God in worship is our own self-centeredness and self-absorption. So what do we need to do to experience genuine worship?

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A New But Familiar Way to Raise Disciples
A New But Familiar Way to Raise Disciples

By: Jim Kelsey
Churches must disciple people in the same way we raise our children. We don't sit our kids down for a weekly lecture. We walk with them through their lives, helping them draw lessons from their successes and failures.

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Horizontal and Vertical Churches: Where's the Balance?
Horizontal and Vertical Churches: Where's the Balance?

By: Roger Olson
Some churches relate to God horizontally through fellowship and healthy relationships; other relate to God vertically through worship and spiritual practices. They key is to find the balance.

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Why Jesus Won't Give You One-Size-Fits-All Answers
Why Jesus Won't Give You One-Size-Fits-All Answers

By: Larry Eubanks
Few of life's dilemmas can be solved by ready-made answers. People aren't machines, and neither is life. Jesus knew that developing discernment in others was far superior to giving them point-blank directions.

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Why Can't Our Churches Be More Like Legos?
Why Can't Our Churches Be More Like Legos?

By: Bryan Brock
Lego buildings are fascinating structures. All those different-colored blocks connecting together to make one structure. But when it comes to church, we prefer everything and everyone to be the same.

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Coach's 3-Prong Philosophy Applies to Churches
Coach's 3-Prong Philosophy Applies to Churches

By: Guy Sayles
Legendary UNC Coach Dean Smith had a three-prong philosophy for his teams: play hard, play smart, play together. And that's not a bad philosophy for churches, too.

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Early Christians' Radical Actions Really Not So Radical
Early Christians' Radical Actions Really Not So Radical

By: Drew Smith
While the actions of giving up private property by the early Christians may have been something radical, the reality is that these actions were actually normative for Christian identity and community.

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What Does It Really Mean to be Righteous?
What Does It Really Mean to be Righteous?

By: Rupen Das
What does righteous mean? The average church member likely associates it with being blameless or holy. Righteous can also be understood as an obligation in the context of our social relationships.

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Why Many Churches Have a Common Core Christianity
Why Many Churches Have a Common Core Christianity

By: Joe LaGuardia
Common Core provides national benchmarks for students. With so many churchgoers lacking basic bible knowledge, many churches must take a Common Core approach from the pulpit.

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Why Few Christians Know What It Means to be One
Why Few Christians Know What It Means to be One

By: Robert Guffey
Far too many Christians think far too little about what it means to be a Christian. Their priorities focus on power, consumerism and celebrity, rather than Jesus' way of humility, kindness and grace.

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2 Important Skills for Church Leaders
2 Important Skills for Church Leaders

By: Guy Sayles
Effective leaders need two important skills when leading a church. They need to be able to motivate members to take a hill and they need to be able to discern which hills to take.

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How Your Church is Like a Coffeemaker Factory
How Your Church is Like a Coffeemaker Factory

By: Jim Somerville
Factories make coffeemakers. Those coffeemakers don't make more coffeemakers; they make coffee. If they don't, their factories go out of business. Churches are disciple-making factories. What do their disciples make?

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3 Questions That Saved My Spiritual Life
3 Questions That Saved My Spiritual Life

By: Mark Tidsworth
Do you feel like you're playing a hide-and-seek game when you look for God in the institutional church. Before you walk out altogether, consider these three questions. They may just save your spiritual life.

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How You Can Rediscover Contemporary Jesus
How You Can Rediscover Contemporary Jesus

By: Guy Sayles
More than any argument for the truth of Christianity, what persuades me over and over again is the immediate and inescapable presence of Jesus. We relate to him as a here-and-now reality.

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Skype Interview: Michael Okwakol on African Churches
Skype Interview: Michael Okwakol on African Churches

By: EthicsDaily Staff
Michael Okwakol, senior pastor of a Baptist church in Uganda and president of the All Africa Baptist Fellowship, talks about challenges for African churches in a new EthicsDaily.com Skype interview.

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Does Your Church Function as a Green-Light Church?
Does Your Church Function as a Green-Light Church?

By: Bill Wilson
Churches used to be a source of entrepreneurship, but many have abandoned that spirit and are in survival mode. Instead of being a green-light church where ideas are born, they're stuck in yellow and red.

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5 Lessons Your Church Can Learn from AA
5 Lessons Your Church Can Learn from AA

By: Logan Carpenter
Review Alcoholics Anonymous' 12-step program, and you'll see the organization expects a lot from those who attend. They are family who hold each other accountable. The church could learn from them.

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Training the Church's Next Generation of Leaders
Training the Church's Next Generation of Leaders

By: Ircel Harrison
It's not enough to identify and disciple leaders for the church. Leaders need to invest their time to mentor young leaders who will in turn invest their time training the following generation.

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10 Places Members Go When They Skip Church
10 Places Members Go When They Skip Church

By: Bill Wilson
Weekly church attendance is in serious decline as loyal members attend less frequently than before. Here are 10 of the most frequent places they go on Sundays when they're not in church.

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Your Church Must Choose: Window or Aisle Seat?
Your Church Must Choose: Window or Aisle Seat?

By: Bill Owen
You may feel cramped in the window seat of a flight, but you have a great view of the world. The aisle seat offers far more comfort. Metaphorically speaking, many churches prefer the aisle seat.

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Why Too Many Christians Go it Alone, Pilgrim
Why Too Many Christians Go it Alone, Pilgrim

By: Mark Tidsworth
Many Christians see the process of growing as disciples as personal, private and individualistic, believing they don't need a community of faith. Here's why playing the John Wayne type won't work.

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No Higher Calling: Advocating for Poor, Powerless
No Higher Calling: Advocating for Poor, Powerless

By: Bob Browning
Jesus couldn't ignore the plight of those who were being exploited, especially by the religious leaders. He accepted his mission to be an advocate for the poor and powerless. We also have no higher calling.

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What Filters Does Your Church Need to Jettison?
What Filters Does Your Church Need to Jettison?

By: Greg DeLoach
We filter our email to weed out unwanted solicitations, but the church should be a place where all are welcome and no one is filtered out. Yet churches have many filters that need to be jettisoned.

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God Doesn't Want Us to Live as Walking 'Selfies'
God Doesn't Want Us to Live as Walking 'Selfies'

By: Greg DeLoach
Now that every other person has a phone with a camera, the world's awash in selfies. Church can include groups of "selfies," too, but God has called us to reach out to our neighbors.

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How Not to be Discouraged by the Church
How Not to be Discouraged by the Church

By: Guy Sayles
Devotion to the church often keeps company with doubts about the church. While we can be greatly discouraged and hurt by people at church, it's also where we discover God's grace.

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To Find Your Voice, Listen to God
To Find Your Voice, Listen to God
By: Bob Browning
Do you believe people need to hear what you have to say? Peter, the leader of Jesus' disciples, did. However, he learned that before he could find his voice, he must first be willing to listen to Jesus.
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Lessons You Can Learn from Anti-Beatitudes
Lessons You Can Learn from Anti-Beatitudes
By: Joel Snider
You know the blessings within the Beatitudes. When you reverse them, you discover curses for those who ignore those blessings. These curses help you better understand the road map that Jesus gave you.
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Which Is Better: Small Churches or Big Churches?
Which Is Better: Small Churches or Big Churches?
By: Thomas Kidd
Is it easier to live out biblical Christianity if you attend a small church or a large one? The truth is neither model is better than the other. Each comes with its own tradeoffs. Here are three.
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Young Adults Must Step Up into Church Leadership
Young Adults Must Step Up into Church Leadership
By: Joe LaGuardia
As younger adults become increasingly independent, they have the potential to take more ownership in local churches. And local churches must be willing to let them lead.
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How Lent Calls You to Pay Attention to Life
How Lent Calls You to Pay Attention to Life

By: Britt Hester
Lent is about more than the practical benefits of giving up vices and taking up virtues. It's a time to pay attention to your life and determine where you are on your journey.

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How Does God's Grace Shine Through You?
How Does God's Grace Shine Through You?

By: Molly T. Marshall
To reach the fullness of the unique human identity purposed for us, we must focus attention on God's self-revealing in Christ and the ways he continues to shine through faithful sisters and brothers.

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3 Habits to Help Your Church Develop Disciples
3 Habits to Help Your Church Develop Disciples
By: Mark Tidsworth
Developing each other and ourselves as disciples of Jesus Christ is one of the unique roles of God's church. Here are three ways your church can begin to develop disciples.
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Some Beliefs That Matter Don't Matter to Everyone
Some Beliefs That Matter Don't Matter to Everyone
By: Colin Harris
In our current theological climate, many defend the rightness of a particular belief against alternatives. But a faith community loses its ability to nurture when rigid beliefs replace a vital, growing faith.
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Churches Must Move Beyond Sunday-Morning Huddle
Churches Must Move Beyond Sunday-Morning Huddle
By: Dennis Atwood
The game-ending final play in this year's Super Bowl has a lesson for churches: Huddling is important, but execution is even more critical. Churches must move beyond their walls and get out into the world.
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You Can't Be a Disciple Until You First Become One
You Can't Be a Disciple Until You First Become One
By: Larry Eubanks
Everyone wants to be a disciple, but no one wants to become one. Discipleship is for those who give themselves completely to it, and ask nothing from it except the privilege to be allowed to continue.
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Why Some Christians See Jesus Like Ricky Bobby Does
Why Some Christians See Jesus Like Ricky Bobby Does

By: Justin Smith
Like Ricky Bobby in "Talladega Nights," many Christians like "the Christmas Jesus best." We're called, however, to joyfully follow Jesus in every season and through any circumstance.

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Why Christians Cannot Ignore Climate Change
Why Christians Cannot Ignore Climate Change
By: John Weaver
As climate change continues, it is the poorest in our world who will suffer the most. If we are to call ourselves a gospel people, we cannot ignore the condition and well being of creation.
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Are You Missing the Other Half of Advent?
Are You Missing the Other Half of Advent?
By: Colin Harris
No matter how authentic and spectacular our Advent celebrations are, if we fail to embrace the life to which incarnation invites us, we have participated in only half of the celebration.
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Why Some Christians Desire a Convenient Faith
Why Some Christians Desire a Convenient Faith
By: Seth Vopat
We define truth as an effort to make the world in Christ's image, but that concept is not found in the gospels. We want a convenient faith, which fits nicely into our overbooked schedules, not a faith that requires intention.
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Conversion: Aligning Our Lives with God's Kingdom
Conversion: Aligning Our Lives with God's Kingdom
By: Rod Benson
Conversion, which lies at the heart of evangelical faith and experience, is not primarily about escape from judgment in the afterlife, but about aligning our lives with the principles and priorities of God's kingdom.
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What Does It Mean If You Follow
What Does It Mean If You Follow "The Way of Jesus"?
By: David Fitch
The term "the way of Jesus" has become increasingly popular. While it's meant to emphasize practical everyday Christian life, different groups have co-opted it to mean different things.
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How to Keep Your Faith from Wilting
How to Keep Your Faith from Wilting
By: Bill Wilson
Much of what we call faith and commitment is actually a thin veneer of religious ritualism that withers at the first hint of stress. To hear the Spirit's voice, we need to go deeper. Like Paul, we need to go to Arabia.
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4 Ideas to Guide Your Church Budget
4 Ideas to Guide Your Church Budget
By: Matt Sapp
It's budget time for most churches. This is a time for spiritual self-assessment as your church organizes your plans to accomplish God's dreams. What does your budget say about your priorities?
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Few Adults Know Blessing of Best Friends. Who's Yours?
Few Adults Know Blessing of Best Friends. Who's Yours?
By: Griff Martin
To see the importance of friendship is to acknowledge one of the deepest and most sacred places in our lives. Sadly, many adults miss out on the blessing of having a best friend. Who's yours?
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Jesus Loved the Poor. Why Don't Some of His Followers?
Jesus Loved the Poor. Why Don't Some of His Followers?
By: Mike Harton
Jesus spent most of his time on this earth ministering to the poor and disenfranchised. However, when it comes to issues affecting the poor today, many of his followers show little sympathy.
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3 Truths That Church-Hoppers Forget
3 Truths That Church-Hoppers Forget
By: Joe LaGuardia
The fastest growing churches are those with contemporary worship, a founding pastor or both. Church attendance, however, is at an all-time low. That's what happens when many of us hop from church to church.
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What Your Congregation Can Learn from Common Core
What Your Congregation Can Learn from Common Core
By: Brock Ratcliff
Contrary to what others may think, Common Core is not an invasion by the federal government into our children's classrooms. And Common Core has a lesson for your church.
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Tree Trimming Offers Guidance for Christian Discipleship
Tree Trimming Offers Guidance for Christian Discipleship
By: Sara Powell
When the electric company trims your trees, you may not like the end result but their work keeps electricity flowing when you need it. What trimming needs to take place in your life to let God work?
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Many Church Discipleship Programs Overlook This
Many Church Discipleship Programs Overlook This
By: Larry Eubanks
Some church discipleship programs overlook an important task given to humans: to take care of God's creation. We are called to care for each other as well as the plants and animals in need of protection.
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The Importance of Jesus' Faith in God
The Importance of Jesus' Faith in God
By: Drew Smith
Jesus' power to do miracles may be credited to his faith in God to work miracles through him. The Gospel of Mark shows Jesus as the example of faithful discipleship.
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4 Discipleship Lessons from a Global Perspective
4 Discipleship Lessons from a Global Perspective
By: Peter Dunn
In contrast to the Western world, most of the churches in the global south have experienced dramatic growth. All churches can gain from discipleship programs that engage church members' needs.
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A Better Way: Choosing Unity Over Division
A Better Way: Choosing Unity Over Division

By: Guy Sayles
We classify and separate ourselves and others according to characteristics. Rich vs. poor. Republican vs. Democrat. Sinner vs. saint. It doesn't have to be like this. We can choose a better way.

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Why Church Youth Need to Learn Opposing Views
Why Church Youth Need to Learn Opposing Views

By: Michael Helms
Why do so many youth leave the church after leaving home? We spend a lot of time telling them what to believe, but not enough time educating them about opposing views and helping them think.

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When Leaders Depart, Disciples Apply Lessons Learned
When Leaders Depart, Disciples Apply Lessons Learned
By: Griff Martin
When Maya Angelou passed away, many remarked that she had so much more to teach us. But when leaders depart, those whom they touched can continue to apply their words and deeds.
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Making a Difference in the Lives of At-Risk Students
Making a Difference in the Lives of At-Risk Students
By: Trevor Barton
How do we help the countless at-risk children in our schools? We can begin by seeing them not as problems to be pushed into the corners, but as people to be welcomed into our hearts.
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A Definition of Worship to Guide Your Life
A Definition of Worship to Guide Your Life
By: James Gordon
The submission of all our nature and the integration of all our life into adoration and self-giving love describes a deep rootedness of mind and soul in the love of God. That's the core of worship.
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8 Spiritual Disciplines to Give Your Preschoolers
8 Spiritual Disciplines to Give Your Preschoolers
By: Brett Gibson
When it comes to laying a spiritual foundation in the livers of children, it's not the church that has the primary influence – it's the family. Here are eight steps to get your preschooler on the right path.
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3 Things You May Have Forgotten about Faith
3 Things You May Have Forgotten about Faith
By: Matt Sapp
Many of us live as if faith was only an intellectual exercise, but faith is more than intellectual assent to a set of propositions. Here are three things we often forget about faith.
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Why Your Church Needs to Stop Counting People
Why Your Church Needs to Stop Counting People
By: Joe LaGuardia
Churches often measure their growth by how many people they get in the pews on Sunday morning, but is that really the best way to measure the spiritual health of a congregation?
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Fans or Disciples – Which Kind of Follower Are You?
Fans or Disciples – Which Kind of Follower Are You?
By: Colin Harris
What's our best protection against the distraction of sideshows that use the language of faith to disguise all manner of injustice and discrimination? Growing mature disciples.
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The Church Addiction: Satisfying Our Own Egos
The Church Addiction: Satisfying Our Own Egos
By: Bill Wilson
For many, the U.S. church experience is akin to an addiction to a poor substitute for the gospel of Jesus. All of us crave a church that will cater to us. It's time to break the addictive cycle.
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Salt and Light
We are the salt of the earth, from Jesus’ perspective, and the light of the world. And he says “are”... “You are the salt of the earth... You are the light of the world.” Not will be, not might be, not even “I want you to be or should be.” The verb is not future tense, it is present. Nor is it dependent on our ability to be good. It is a God-given reality, a matter of divine grace, and there is no way we can get around it. We cannot escape it, we cannot avoid it or try to slip around it, explain it away or certainly deny it. We are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Still, what does it mean?
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Releasing Angels
One of the greatest gifts you can give those you love is to share with them the potential you see in them. Let those around you know of the talents, skills, abilities and gifts you believe they possess, and offer your help as they develop them. [ ]Every person needs a support group, a loving, encouraging community where their dreams can be planted and grow. Shouldn’t the church be one of these places?
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Witness the Lamb
I sometimes wonder what would happen if, instead of inviting others to come and debate, to come and be lectured, a community of Christ followers might invite others to come and see them live out their faith by affirming the sanctity of all human life by caring for those among us regardless of age, race, ethnicity, social economic class, and sexual orientation. I wonder what kind of witness we might have if we cleaned up our own sins before we condemned the sins of others. Wouldn’t that be an appealing witness? Instead of “love the sinner and hate the sin,” why don’t we first ascribe to this dictum: “Love the sinner, and hate our own sin”?
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Taking Evil Seriously in Our Broken World
Taking Evil Seriously in Our Broken World
By: Gordon King
While many of us can have high standards of personal morality, we can simultaneously be perpetrators of social evil in this broken world. How will the church help the wounded? 
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Are You Spiritual But Not Religious? It Isn't Enough
Are You Spiritual But Not Religious? It Isn't Enough
By: Chuck Queen
Some folks eschew church, claiming they're spiritual but not religious. But authentic spirituality requires community. For Christians that means learning how to be the body of Christ.
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Why God Isn't As Close as a Text Message
Why God Isn't As Close as a Text Message
By:  Seth Vopat
We instantly connect with friends wherever they are with a simple text, so why can't our relationship with God be as close? Perhaps it's time to look again at those Scriptures that talk about God's distance.
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3 Activities That Will Revive Your Faith
3 Activities That Will Revive Your Faith
By: Keith Herron
We live in a society that's spinning like an out-of-control merry-go-round. How do we stand firm? These 3 activities will help you to stay grounded in our fast-paced world.
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Do You Settle for the Familiar or Risk Being Shattered?
Do You Settle for the Familiar or Risk Being Shattered?
By: James Gordon
We anxiously cling to the familiar. We must choose between insulated safety with the familiar or risk exposure by being open to that which might shatter us. The latter is the path of grace and faith.
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For Struggling Millennials, 14 Christmas Truths
For Struggling Millennials, 14 Christmas Truths
Many millennials have trouble connecting to church. They want – but don't often find – honesty and transparency. Here are 14 truths about Christmas for millennials and others seeking truth.
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Asking Questions: It's Crucial to Your Faith Development
Asking Questions: It's Crucial to Your Faith Development
Good people who do good work can completely miss what God is doing. Are you willing to challenge your religious certitudes by asking weightier and more honest questions?
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What Can Birthdays Teach Us About Advent?
What Can Birthdays Teach Us About Advent?
As we move through Advent's preparation for the church's celebration of that first birthday we call Christmas, we look forward to reliving the joy of the new life that has changed the world in so many ways.
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Cost of Discipleship
Jesus seemed to be testing the commitment and resolve of these would-be followers, and he was not afraid to trim down the roster. In fact, he told the crowds to estimate or count the cost before following him. [ ]Jesus’ point, is that anything in life that is worth doing and worth doing well is going to cost something, and we should anticipate that cost in our decision-making.
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What is the Most Shocking Thing Jesus Said?
Embracing Jesus’ values and lifestyle will inevitably put us at odds with family members, friends and the prevailing philosophies and patterns of our culture. At times, we’ll feel as if we are swimming upstream. Only the highest level of commitment to God through Christ will keep us focused and determined to remain faithful.
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How Close Does Your Spiritual DNA Match Jesus'?
How Close Does Your Spiritual DNA Match Jesus'?
We don't have physical DNA of Jesus, but what if we could test for spiritual DNA? If a crime-scene analyst could test you, how close would your spiritual DNA match Jesus'?
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Do Churches Want Transformation or the Latest Change?
Do Churches Want Transformation or the Latest Change?
Change is an essential part of any institution, including the church. When it comes to education, churches must choose between changing to the latest trend or seeking true transformation.
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4 Ways to Continue to Follow Christ Faithfully
4 Ways to Continue to Follow Christ Faithfully
Plenty of books explain how to be a faithful disciple of Christ, but Paul reminds us with one verse: We continue to live in Christ just as we first received Him. But what does that mean?
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Measuring Church Growth: Statistics or Spiritual Depth?
Measuring Church Growth: Statistics or Spiritual Depth?
Keeping track of attendance and finances is important, but we should practice spiritual discernment that pushes us to consider how we are growing as sisters and brothers in Christ.
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4 Calls Jesus Made to Radical Living
4 Calls Jesus Made to Radical Living
Jesus was always calling his followers into a community in which they were to find a new way of existing in the world that demonstrates the ethics of God's rule. Here are four of his calls to action.
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Where's the Line Between Caution and Dishonesty?
Where's the Line Between Caution and Dishonesty?

Ministers face a delicate dilemma when sharing their knowledge with their congregations. Here are five suggestions to help you discern the boundary between caution and dishonesty.

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5 Ways to Plug in Church Members for Service
5 Ways to Plug in Church Members for Service
When church members say they can't find a place to plug in, it may have more to do with the way the church empowers members than with the lack of available opportunities.
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How to Make Your Bible Study More Meaningful
How to Make Your Bible Study More Meaningful
The Bible is more accessible than ever, but who's reading it? The primary goal of engaging the Bible is more to live right than to practice sound doctrine.
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What Mickey Mantle Can Teach Us About Discipleship
What Mickey Mantle Can Teach Us About Discipleship
As superior as he was to most other baseball players, Mickey Mantle didn't exercise his gifts to the fullest. It's not about how we compare to others, but how we use the gifts given to us.
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3 Ways to Move Your Church to a Deeper Faith
3 Ways to Move Your Church to a Deeper Faith
Many churches have preconceived ideas about what Scripture already says. Here are three ways pastors can lead their churches to read Scripture again – for the first time.
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Balancing the Tension Between Pastor, Prophet Roles
Balancing the Tension Between Pastor, Prophet Roles
For pastors and laypersons alike, balancing a spirit of sensitivity and compassion while speaking prophetically about today's issues isn't easy. Being one often risks the other.
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What Value Do College Ministries Offer Churches?
What Value Do College Ministries Offer Churches?
Many churches don't see college ministries as a great investment. While ministering to college students offers little to no payout, churches are about making disciples, not filling sanctuaries.
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Jesus Truth Minus Jesus Way Won't Equal Jesus Life
Jesus Truth Minus Jesus Way Won't Equal Jesus Life
A myopic focus on the Jesus truth reduces the gospel to a proposition to be believed. We need to expend just as much energy considering what exactly the Jesus way is.
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Loving Others Requires Sustained, Patient Practice
Loving Others Requires Sustained, Patient Practice
If you're going to be good at something – whether it's golf or math or art – it will require years of patient practice. Why should we expect love to be any different?
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How Choir Rehearsal is Like Christian Discipleship
How Choir Rehearsal is Like Christian Discipleship
Choir rehearsal is a joy on some days, a challenge on others. And that makes it much like life. Some days we're obedient to the Spirit, and others we're doing our duty.
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Why Your Church Isn't Like a Ford Model T
Why Your Church Isn't Like a Ford Model T
Like assembly lines mass-producing millions of Ford Model Ts, today's churches are seeking the right formula to mass-produce growth. But people are not material objects.
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4 Characteristics of Churches That Call New Leaders
4 Characteristics of Churches That Call New Leaders
Many congregations are so focused on survival that they've grown blind to the call to propagate and reproduce leaders, but they're putting their future at stake.
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Does Your
Does Your "Lunk Alarm" Sound Around Mature Believers?
Just like we wish the guy who lifts 500 pounds in the gym would go away while we're working out, do we react the same way toward spiritually mature believers?
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The Call to "People-Catching" Living
Discipleship involves following Jesus in taking people alive for God so they become part of God's love, truth, peace, hope, and joy in the world. It means following Jesus in liberating people from oppressive forces and systems—including cultural, social, political, economic, and religious forces and systems—that trap and cripple them. Discipleship involves following Jesus in living as God's good news and work for freedom, healing, peace, love, justice, joy, and hope. This meaning of discipleship—following Jesus—in "people-catching living" gives the term "catch and release" an entirely new meaning.
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Who Tells You Who You Are?
Who Tells You Who You Are?
Jesus didn't follow John the Baptist's expectations of who he should be. Instead, he followed the Holy Spirit's leadership. Will you follow your path or someone else's?
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What Do You Value in Life's Daily Auction?
What Do You Value in Life's Daily Auction?
We place a value on everything, whether it's our time, our health or our family. The sum of these decisions reflects whether we believe life is about us or something much bigger.
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Finding Hope by Sharing What You Treasure Most
Finding Hope by Sharing What You Treasure Most
We live in a world where we praise the powerful and show kindness only to those who can do something for us. What if we gave the world the things that mean the most to us?
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A New Prayer for a New Year: God Bless This Mess
A New Prayer for a New Year: God Bless This Mess
Many assume they need to get their lives together before they approach God. But God comes to us as we offer him our mess and invite him into the midst of it.
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What Point of View Guides Your Life?
What Point of View Guides Your Life?
When authors develop a strong point of view, readers can relate to their characters. If you think people need to follow your point of view, you're likely not employing Jesus as your life's editor.
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We're Human Becomings, Not Human Beings
We're Human Becomings, Not Human Beings
My reading of the New Testament tells that Jesus' followers are headed into life as God means it to be. Our destiny is to become our authentic selves by becoming like Jesus.
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Five Ways That Christian Educators Grow Disciples
Five Ways That Christian Educators Grow Disciples
The work of the minister responsible for educating church members has changed over the years. No longer simply administrators, they are expected to grow disciples.
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Flesh and Blood
So I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps what Jesus means, by inviting his listeners to eat his flesh and drink his blood, is that they are, in accepting him, to take all of him, every last morsel, to immerse themselves completely in his presence, to fully engage in his way of life and to follow him without reservation.
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Growing in Christian Faith Like Family Farming
Growing in Christian Faith Like Family Farming
Being a Christian is not mainly ideas we have or beliefs we affirm; it is a whole way of life. Christians are people who are learning, by experience, to do all of life in the Jesus-way.
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Fruit-Bearing Disciples
Jesus issues this loving invitation: “Remain in me. Abide in me. Make yourself at home in me just as I do in you.”
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The Way of Discipleship
During this season of Lent, let us hear with open ears and courageous hearts what Jesus told his disciples: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” How will we respond to this challenging invitation?
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Why God Doesn't Recognize Your Plans
Why God Doesn't Recognize Your Plans
We often make great plans about how we want to serve God – and then expect God to show up and bless them. Instead, we need to show up for God's plan.
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Powerful Teaching
May the words and demonstration of Jesus’ powerful teaching release us out of our bondage and into the freedom of God’s glorious grace!
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Repent and Believe
Repent and believe. That is the invitation that Jesus gave to His would-be followers at the beginning of His earthly ministry. That is the invitation that Jesus gives to His would-be followers today. Will we accept this invitation?
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Why We Want the Easy Way to Follow Christ
Why We Want the Easy Way to Follow Christ
The desire for practical ways to make life better seems to be common in today's churches. We want Christ, but we don't want the difficulties of following Christ.
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This Christmas, Do You Know Where Jesus Is?
This Christmas, Do You Know Where Jesus Is?
The one who entered the world in weakness and vulnerability came to reveal a way of life that has the power to transform everything. But do Christians know where Jesus is?
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Why Churches Need More Comedy, Less Advertising
Why Churches Need More Comedy, Less Advertising
Church marketing makes it seem easy to become a disciple of Jesus. If truth in advertising were to prevail, we have to admit that this Jesus-following thing isn't easy.
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Even Greater Things
Jesus commanded his disciples to make disciples. How are we in fulfilling Jesus’ great commission? How are we in making disciples who in turn can make disciples of Jesus?
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Why Some Churches Remain Mum on Social Issues
Why Some Churches Remain Mum on Social Issues
Too many churches have decided that loving God doesn't require attention to social issues. They fret more about church decor than they do about war and peace.
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Declaration Calls for Discipleship, Reconciliation
Declaration Calls for Discipleship, Reconciliation
Reflecting the voices of Christian leaders from 198 nations, the Lausanne Movement's latest declaration states two themes – the need for "radical" discipleship and for cross-centered reconciliation.
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Imitate Christ? Let's Not Get Carried Away
Imitate Christ? Let's Not Get Carried Away
Some people, even Christians, don't want to imitate Christ. To do so would mean following his radical ethic of love, his call to nonviolence and his message about sharing with the poor and practicing forgiveness.
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British Christians Live Out Faith Where It Counts
British Christians Live Out Faith Where It Counts
Instead of focusing most of their energy on church activities, British Christians can learn to live out their faith in the places they spend the most time, the head of a Christian agency says.
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Turtles All the Way Down
Welcome to the hard sayings of Jesus where Jesus pushes hard against a common sense level of faith and demands more than any of us are willing to give. What you do with these words is up to you, but I doubt you feel comfortable with them.
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What Ever Happened to Following the Way of Jesus?
What Ever Happened to Following the Way of Jesus?
Early Christians understood that being a disciple of Jesus included humility, inclusivity, forgiveness, compassion and surrender to a greater good. Today, many versions of Christianity exist that don't resemble this way.
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Why Did Mark's Gospel End So Abruptly?
Why Did Mark's Gospel End So Abruptly?
Most scholars agree that Mark's Gospel ends with the women fleeing the tomb in fear and no sighting of a resurrected Jesus. While some may see this as problematic, it fits with the author's intent to show how one follows Jesus.
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From Mountaintop to Real-World Ministry
From Mountaintop to Real-World Ministry
When we are at places or in situations that offer us feelings of joy and happiness, we don't want to return to the real world. We prefer the mountaintop experience like Peter, but we can never stay there.
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Three Ways to Live Out the Hardest Commandment
Three Ways to Live Out the Hardest Commandment
One of the most troubling and ignored commands of Jesus is the order to love our enemies. How can we do it? We can look to three primary actions and reactions that Jesus took toward those who were his enemies.
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Living the Dream: Finding Purpose and Mission in Life
Living the Dream: Finding Purpose and Mission in Life
What's your idea of a dream life? Most of us think of a dream life as an upgrade in our circumstances, a life with fewer challenges and greater comfort and convenience. But is this God's dream for us?
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Many of Jesus' Followers Flee Suffering He Endured
Many of Jesus' Followers Flee Suffering He Endured
The church is Jesus to a world in need of prophetic voices, serving hands and feet, and compassionate hearts. Yet we have forgotten that the body of Christ should also be broken.
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Interfaith Friendships Spark Deeper Reflection on Jesus
Interfaith Friendships Spark Deeper Reflection on Jesus
My involvement in an interfaith group and the friendships that developed led me to reflect more sharply on the implications of believing in Jesus Christ as God's unique embodiment and revelation in the midst of a pluralistic world.
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A Real Jesus
When you show up, it is not about how much you do, as Mother Teresa said, it’s how much love you put into what you do. How much you are willing to follow the one who loves you beyond all measure and imagination.
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Knee-Bending Lifestyle Places Others Before Self
Knee-Bending Lifestyle Places Others Before Self
When Paul says every knee ought to bow, it's not as a ritual of religious homage. It's a physical act that serves as an ethical symbol of the way one is choosing to live one's own life as we serve others before ourselves.
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Some Folks Need to Break Their Addiction – To Church
Some Folks Need to Break Their Addiction – To Church
Some people become churchaholics, going to four or five meetings a week for church-related events. Some feel compelled to do this. Others feel it’s their calling. Some attend out of guilt.
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Lose Some Life to Save Some
Lose Some Life to Save Some
Americans have been led to think that all they have to care for is their own selves. And that turns out to be a lot of people in this country—people who have bought into, whether upon deep examination or casual and almost unconscious commitment, a comprehensive philosophy of self-interest.
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Authentic Discipleship is Both Costly and Liberating
Authentic Discipleship is Both Costly and Liberating
Even as we speak of discipleship as costly, we must also view it as liberating. The call to the two sets of brothers to leave what they know, what gave them comfort and security, is at the same time a call to find liberation and hope in something that is transformative.
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Obama’s ‘Peter Moment’
During his inaugural address, President Barack Obama quoted the Apostle Paul, but it was really a Peter moment.
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The Gospel of—or About—Jesus
The alternatives here are not between leaving Jesus in or out of the gospel picture. Jesus figures centrally in both options, but in much different roles. In one he is the decisive object of faith. In the other he is the decisive figure who points to the object of faith by his words and deeds and who invites others to be a part of the new thing that God is doing.
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Put Matthew 25 on Your 'To-Do' List
What about putting at least a minimum number of acts of charity on one's daily "to-do" list and committing oneself to checking them off when they are completed?
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Tough Times Can Open Door to Transformation
As a pastor and follower of Jesus, the teachings of the Bible and the initiatives of Christ are constantly re-formatting my lifestyle, calling me to leave behind the errant ways of my past so that I might live more authentically, more passionately and more faithfully.
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We Are the Bible Others Read
We Christians really are the only Bible that some people will read.
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Find Peace in Hard Economic Times
What does one do when the stock market keeps diving, gas prices keep rising, and all that experts can agree upon is that nobody knows when or how this economic free fall will end? Many are consumed by rumor, worry, stress and fear. Lost jobs, income and savings are a gloomy reality. Some of us are more OK than others, but everybody is affected.
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Has Sports Become a Religion in America?
Most religions focus on one god, one deity, or one central spiritual leader.
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Through Christ We Find the Strength to Love Our Enemies
There is no doubt that Jesus commanded his followers to love their enemies. Moreover, there is no room for negotiation with Jesus on this point. No intelligent person can present a persuasive argument against taking his command seriously. Indeed, while we attempt to evade Jesus' clear teaching by placing limitations on his command, specifically related to who we love and how much we love, these limitations cannot be accepted by those who seek to follow the teachings of Christ with great sincerity.
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The Importance of Living an Authentic Life
By now the Bigfoot story is no longer big news. It was all a big hoax.
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Converting the Church
I must have been about 10 when I first went to Disneyland in Southern California around 1968. Going to Disneyland was a dream come true for me. My parents scraped and saved to make this trip possible.
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Until God's Redemption Is Complete, We Must Be Discontent
In an earlier column, I wrote about how we discover contentment through the experience of God's continual presence, the present that God gives us to live today and the relationships God brings into each of our lives. For followers of Christ, however, there is a paradox in our discovery of contentment.
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Jesus' Life Offers a Model of Contentment
We live in a restless and discontented world. Each day we are confronted with problems and circumstances that test our peace and contentment. We worry about financial problems, health problems and family problems. We are anxious about raising our children, succeeding at work and maintaining a certain standard of living.
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The Good Samaritan Teaches There Are No Limits to Our Community
The Parable of the Good Samaritan is one of the most familiar and beloved parables told by Jesus. Yet the danger in knowing the story too well is that we have often understood the story apart from its original social context, leading us to miss the shock the parable had on its first audience. While the parable can stand on its own as a good story about one person showing compassion to another, hearing it as the first hearers did opens to us the real sting of the tale.
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Religious Doctrine Must Not Serve as a Weapon
When I was in seminary, the institution I attended experienced a radical shift to the far right. During those days I witnessed a theological battle that still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. On one particularly rough day, my Hebrew professor came into class and made one statement that has stuck with me ever since. "Theology is never the issue. It is always the weapon. Power is the real issue."
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The Cross Must Again Become the Focal Image of Christianity
What does it mean to be Christian? The word, as far as we know, is first used in Acts 11:26, when the disciples are called Christians at Antioch. The term itself means one who follows Christ. But in our modern society, where Christianity has been so intertwined with American culture, the word has lost its original meaning, and its common use clouds our understanding of what it means to be a Christian.
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In God He Trusts
Last Friday, a judge in Lake County, Illinois granted the petition of 57-year-old Steve Kreuscher to change his name to In God We Trust. His legal first name is now "In God" and his legal last name is "We Trust."
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The First Beatitude
"When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying: "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:1-3, NRSV)
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Jesus Gave Strong Warnings Against 'Affluenza'
We are in the middle of a very serious epidemic in this country. No, the Centers for Disease Control have not issued any warnings, and doctors and healthcare professionals have not reported any outbreak of disease or plague. But the epidemic we face is real, powerful and very dangerous. It is an Affluenza epidemic.
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Where is God in the Storm?
Somewhere a preacher is preaching. He shakes his fist at the ceiling as he describes the wrath of God. That wrath has come, he tells his attentive congregation, on the crest of a terrible storm. God has shown his power and his might by smashing a wall of wind and water into villages in the troubled country of Myanmar.
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The Devil Is In the Doing of Evil
Reading sacred texts about an all-loving and all-powerful God raises questions and concerns when that image is compared to the realities of life. All have faced, or will face, tragedy, misery and death. Events will occur that appear unfair, leading most of us to question if any sense of cosmic justice truly exists.
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If the Bible is So Important, Why Don't We Take Jesus More Seriously?
A friend of mine was telling me of his latest adventure of faith. The church he pastors has a sign on the main road of their small town. They posted this message: "The Sum of Christianity is Love God, Love Your Neighbor. The Rest is Doctrine." My friend said that message caused unexpected controversy in the Christian community of his town. One minister took out an ad in the local paper attacking the message and the church that posted it. Others communicated their criticism in more direct ways.
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God's Kingdom is a Kingdom of Consciousness
When you read the Gospel narratives, do you ever notice how Jesus sees and hears those people ignored by others? Whether a blind beggar, a woman who has been bleeding for 12 years or a hungry crowd, Jesus either sees them when others don't or he sees them quite differently than others do. These encounters inform us that Jesus had an intentional consciousness of those around him.
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Mother's Day for Peace
According to Wikipedia, the roots of Mother's Day may go all the way back to celebrations of motherhood by the ancient Greeks. In 16th century England, the custom developed of observing Mothering Day on the 4th Sunday in Lent. On that day, people would return to their "mother church" where, naturally, they would likely encounter their mothers.
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God's Kingdom is a Kingdom of Sharing
In Luke 12 Jesus tells a parable about a rich man who had plenty. In fact, the man had so much grain that he decided to tear down his barns and build bigger ones. This rich man believed that because of his new windfall he was set for a life of ease and pleasure. Yet, in a shocking twist of events, the man's life came to an unexpected end, and his abundance was wasted. He had assumed that his surplus of grain would keep him comfortable for years to come, but instead his life was demanded of him that night, and his excess became useless.
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Battling Prejudice at Home and Abroad
I recently traveled to Romania, where Buckner International enables churches to give shoes and socks to orphans who live in group homes. Meeting these children to give them humanitarian aid was amazing. Considering the country is less than 20 years removed from the dictatorial reign of Nicolae Ceausescu, it is all the more remarkable.
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The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of Love
In reading the Hebrew and Christian scriptures, I cannot help but draw one fundamental conclusion about the essence of God: God is love. From Genesis to Revelation, the pages of the Bible sing forth that God is love. If this is true, then we must conclude that the primary characteristic of God's kingdom is also love. While we speak about God's kingdom coming in power, it is in the power of love that God's kingdom transforms the world.
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It Ain't Easy Being Green
Just ask Kermit the Frog, who sang about it. Or the Jolly Green Giant, about whom the following was sung:
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God's Kingdom is a Kingdom of Peace
At the beginning of his Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5, Jesus makes nine statements that would be enough to offer us a guide to living the way God would have us live even if they were the only extant words of Jesus we had. Each statement promises blessings if we live according to what is demanded by Jesus. Unfortunately, his demands are not easy, as he tells us that to find blessings we must be poor, be mournful, be meek, hunger for righteousness, be merciful, and endure persecution in the name of Jesus.
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Faith and Doubt
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival is currently offering an exceptional production of Tom Dudzick's humorous play, "Over the Tavern." The story line is about a Catholic family in the 1950s that literally lives over a tavern. The characters, Chester and Ellen, are struggling to raise their four children, including two teenagers, a son who has down syndrome and a son who doesn't want to be Catholic.
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Clintons Provide Moral Example with Charitable Giving
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and her husband, former President Clinton, reported late Friday afternoon that they made since 2000 more than $109 million and gave $10.25 million to charity.
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Martin Luther King Jr. was Prophetic Voice for Peace
On Friday, April 4, the world remembers the 40th anniversary of the untimely and tragic death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. King's legacy is large, and much of the progress we have made in race relations, although still inadequate, is due to his unwavering belief and commitment to justice, freedom, and equality for all.
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Jesus' Message that God's Kingdom Coming Into the World Still Relevant
In the opening of Mark's Gospel, after his baptism and temptation, Jesus announces that the kingdom of God is at hand. The way in which the author narrates this proclamation as Jesus' first words in the story suggests that Jesus' central message throughout his life was about the kingdom of God.
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Easter Message From Baptist Leader: Don't 'Crucify' Vulnerable Australians
As Easter approaches this year, Australian Christians and Australian churches will retell and reflect on the great gospel events--the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As we look back on the gospel story that, more than any other, gives meaning and purpose to all we do, it is important also to look to the present and future and to re-examine our motives and priorities in the light of the central gospel event.
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Why I Believe in the Resurrection
Sunday Christians around the world celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. The resurrection is viewed by believers just about everywhere as the foundation of Christianity. They assert that by raising Jesus from the dead God has defeated death and secured for all who have faith the gift of eternal life.
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Descending and Ascending
The writer of the Gospel of John has John the Witness (a.k.a. John the Baptist in the other Gospels) saying, upon seeing Jesus approaching him:
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What Does Suffering Mean for Us and Jesus?
Suffering is at the heart of the Christian gospel. The Gospels themselves are stories, with long introductions, about the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus calls us to choose suffering for the sake of His kingdom as He himself chose to suffer for the Kingdom of God. We say that His suffering redeems us--but how?
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Don't Worry, Live Abundantly
Midway through the Sermon on the Mount there is the passage from Matthew 6:25, "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear."
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New Baptist Covenant Celebration a Gift to North American Baptists
Like every other Baptist gathered in Atlanta, I was so pleased at the experience from participating in the Celebration of a New Baptist Covenant. I was unsure whether to come at first, not knowing what to expect or what to think about what might come of this meeting, but I was told by one of my elder mentors that I needed to be there. As usual, the wisdom of my friend was right on target and I am grateful to God for the chance to see it with my own eyes and to hear it with my own ears.
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Jesus' Political Message Pronounced Judgment on Imperial Power
Most readers of the Gospels are familiar with Jesus' confrontations with demons. Throughout his ministry, Jesus encountered many individuals who were said to be possessed by unclean spirits; spirits who were in direct opposition to Jesus' mission, but who ultimately could not stand against the power which Jesus thrust upon them. While these stories convey various levels of meaning, there is one in particular that suggests that Jesus' political mission opposed the arrogant power of empire.
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Jesus' Political Message Judged the Immorality of Poverty
One of the sad facts about American Christianity is that many Christians are ignorant of the political nature of Jesus' message. Preferring to see Jesus in only spiritual terms, and his message as only about salvation and heaven, we often miss the significance of Jesus as a political figure.
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The New Baptist Covenant: What's Next?
The New Baptist Covenant gathering in Atlanta exceeded all my expectations, and I hope it marks the beginning of a new day for Baptists in North America.
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Sacrifice Was Jesus' Master Plan
Today is Ash Wednesday. It is a time to think of sacrifice. It is a time to think of willing sacrifice. We give something up; usually physical in nature to appreciate the sacrifice of the cross and to sharpen our spiritual vision for Easter, which is just around the corner.
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Living With Our Fallibility
It has been a pesky problem from the very beginning. Adam, who walked with God in the cool of the garden, could not follow one simple proscription. Abraham, called by God to be the progenitor of a great nation, lied about Sarah being his wife to save his own hide. Moses, chosen from among all the people of the world to receive God's law, could not follow simple instructions like hitting the rock once instead of twice. And let's not forget about King David. In a single stroke, David managed to mangle four of the Ten Commandments.
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Gore Delivers Most Important Baptist Address in 30 Years
Former Vice President Al Gore delivered the most energetic, substantive and potentially transformative speech made by a Baptist to a Baptist audience in 30 years.
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Can We Be Saved By Lent?
The first Sunday of February is Transfiguration Sunday, followed by Ash Wednesday ringing in Lent. It is a reflective time to wrestle with sin and rediscover our need for salvation.
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The Misunderstood Man From Nazareth
Back in November of last year Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) sent letters for financial information from six of the countless mega-church television preachers. The senator was widely portrayed as persecuting these millionaire preachers. The offended preachers surrounded their auditors with lawyers and let the senators, IRS and anyone interested know that they were not responding to such insolent questions.
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Christmas Star Gets Its Due on Epiphany
(Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly) Christmas, despite what the calendar says, isn't over. And the star--"star of wonder, star of night, star with royal beauty bright"--that shone over Bethlehem won't go dim until it gets its proper due on Epiphany on Sunday.
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New Day's Resolution
If you've been alive the last two weeks, and will continue to be alive in the upcoming two weeks, you'll see a lot of stuff on TV, online, and in print about the pressure to make--and keep--the bane of January's existence: New Year's Resolutions.
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Transforming Poverty by Reconsidering Our Citizenship
The power of our communities lies in the ideals of our common humanity. To continue to live in separate villages whose cohesiveness is ephemeral at best, or in gated communities of homogeneity, will only enhance everyone's poverty.
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Christmas Preparation
Every year at Christmas I take a week of vacation either before or after the holiday. This year I took off the week before. Knowing that things might be hectic in the church office I thought I had everything lined up and taken care of related to adopted Christmas families, the weekly food program and everything else that takes place during the week. I really needed a break to get myself ready for Christmas.
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The More Things Change, the More They Change: A Christmas Memoir
As a child I would go to bed on Christmas Eve so excited I could hardly sleep. Of course, part of the problem was that the last words I heard from Mama before I went to bed were "Go to sleep now; Santa Claus won't come if you're awake." So I went to bed terrified that I wouldn't be able to sleep and certain that if I didn't sleep then there would be no gifts for me.
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The Kingdom of God is Ultimate Reality
The Kingdom that Jesus taught is ultimate reality--reality that cannot be transgressed without dire consequences. "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23.)
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New Baptist Covenant Celebration Must Avoid Appearance of Partisanship
I am a supporter of the Celebration of the New Baptist Covenant. I hope the meeting will enhance Baptist relationships and Baptist witness. Still, I see a potential problem with the political image it may present.
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A Parable of Christmas for Our Time
I have been trying to come up with a parable for the Christmas season. I wanted to write a story that would capture the mood of this strange religious time we live in. But before I could even get my imagination cranked, reality came along with something much better than any thing I might dream up.
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The Ballad of John and John (Ode to John Lennon)
Every year when December hits, we hear a lot about John. That's John, as in the strange and hairy man screaming as loud as he can that we've really messed up the world, and we all better get our act straight before it's too late.
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Creeds, Covenant and Community
Creeds developed early in the history of the church. "Jesus is Lord" may well have been the earliest one. The Apostle's Creed came later, followed by a number of creeds developed and approved by church councils. Most early Protestants continued to generate creeds.
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In Search Of Christmas
Now that Thanksgiving is over it's time to begin preparing for Christmas in earnest. Unfortunately with the arrival of the season also comes the accompanying lunacy. I refer of course to the annual battle to save Christmas. The decision by many retailers to use the inclusive language of "Happy Holidays," rather than "Merry Christmas," has become the latest battleground for conservative Christians' war on culture.
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Being in God's Place and Time
The nurse who greeted us in the emergency room was pleasant and efficient. I could not help noticing, however, the colorful tattoo on her right forearm. Below the tattoo were two additional figures, which looked like Chinese characters.
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Veterans Day Creates a Ministry Dilemma
Veterans Day creates a ministry dilemma. As a pastor and religious leader, how can I be faithful in teaching what I believe to be central to following Christ and yet not unduly offend others?
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Seekers After Less Than God
A story that appeared recently in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution set me to thinking about the ethics of attending church as a "seeker."
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God's Economics: Choosing Who Gets What
Economics is like a game of musical chairs. There are not enough chairs in the world for everyone to have as many as they would like. But rather than play music and race to the nearest chair, we have an auction, and those with the most money buy their chairs while those without are left standing.
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Where Have All the Prophets Gone?
There have never been many of them, but every now and then God manages to refresh the earth in general and the faith community in particular with the presence and the preaching of a prophet. I am not referring to some soothsayer who claims to be able to predict the future.
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A Place for Jesus in the Church?
A Web-based group calling themselves TopVerse.com recently conducted a survey asking Christians to identify their favorite verses. The reason for the survey was to speed up an online search feature offered at the site.
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Mammon at the Malls, Part 2
When Jesus uses the word Mammon, he gives it a nearly demonic connotation--or at least a spiritual connotation distinct from simply "cash"--that sets it up as an alternative to God in a way that Caesar, for example, doesn't have to be.
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Cookies, College, Career and Creation
I have been saddened with all the discussion of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary's homemaking degree. It seems such a waste of energy and resources that have once more distracted Baptists from the mission of Christ Jesus--to be the hands, voice, and presence of God in a needy world.
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