Monthly Archives: January 2014

Weekly Scoop

scoop

 

Not only is today the day I post my Weekly Scoop, but today I am actually heading to the hospital for gallbladder surgery. Yes, today will be the day I part with something that has been with me for over 32 years. However, even though it has been with me for so long, I do not believe I am going to miss it, or the pain it has given me in recent days. With that said, I am going to get this post posted so I can get ready to head to the hospital.

This is a great article on the impact missionaries have had in numerous locations around the world: The Impact world missionaries have made.

A big event coming up is the big game on Sunday, but along with that comes another issue, that of human trafficking. Ed Stetzer addresses a misconception that comes with it: The Super Bowl and Sex Trafficking.

Here is a great post on the issues facing a husband and wife after baby. This is a great read for both men and women: Before you were mommy.

A song that is pretty popular these days is “Same Love” by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. Jackie Hill responds to the message the song preaches: Former lesbian responds to Same Love.

This video presents the gospel in a different but effective way: Video Preaches the gospel in breathtaking way.

Did you watch the Grammys? Wonder how Christians should respond or what we can take away from it? Here are a couple perspectives: Worldview responses to the Grammys.

Has your church moved away from an evening service? Here is a great perspective on why not to: Why I love the evening service.

As a youth pastor, I am constantly finding articles on how to reach the next generation. Here is another great article for parents, youth workers, and ministers alike: How to rescue the next generation.

Churches should be known for being gospel cultures. But how can churches make sure they stay this way? Ray Ortlund addresses this question: Safeguarding your church as a gospel culture.

Justin Lathrop has a great article regarding how churches can stay on mission as well. Not only is it good for churches, it is also good for individuals: How to stay on mission.

Lastly, this is an interesting article on the question of whether or not authenticity has trumped holiness in churches: Has authenticity trumped holiness?

That is all for today. If you enjoy reading these links, feel free to share this through any of your social media outlets. Lastly, if there is anything you believe I should share next week in my weekly scoop, share it with me on twitter or leave it in the comments below.


Weekly Scoop

It started with my daughter, moved on to my wife and then finally caught up with me. It is not often I get sick but unfortunately, this time, I caught the bug. I am slowly starting to regain my energy and will hopefully be fully recovered this weekend. With all of that said, I am glad I can still share my Weekly Scoop with you and with that said, here are some links I believe would be worth your time:

Here are a few pictures of baby animals in the womb. It’s amazing we still call them babies, but human babies in the womb are only fetus’? Something that can be easily disposed of? 12 Unborn Animals in the Womb.

Are you working with youth in any capacity? This video is for you: How to Ruin Young People.

Celebrity pastors and the issues they can create: Pastor rolls up in a tour bus.

Fathers can and will fail at something in their parenting…but even our failures can be and are redeemed by the blood of Jesus: Daddy Fails redeemed by Jesus.

Here is a challenging but encouraging read for the mothers out there: Steps to overcome anger in the moment.

Are you making any of these mistakes that hinder your child’s leadership development: 7 Crippling Parenting Behaviors.

Do you often post to social media in the heat of the moment? 5 Question to ask before posting.

Are you considering quitting social media? If so, here are two posts that will help you make the right decision: How can I know if I should quit and Why I kissed social media goodbye.

Thanks again for checking out my Weekly Scoop. Feel free to share this with others if you find it beneficial to yourself. Also, if you read anything you believe I should be aware of, share it with me in the comments.


Weekly Scoop

In a little over a month my wife, daughter and I will be moving to a home we will be renting in Clifton Forge, VA. We are excited about this new chapter and are looking forward to what God teaches us through this endeavor. Along with that, here are some links you can be excited about:

Here is a great video on the effect pornography has on culture. It is not innocent as people try to make it out to be and men need to step up: Porn and Global Injustice.

A great video on the objectification of women and how to fight it: The Sexy Lie.

Abortion does not only affect women: Rappers heartbreaking video regretting abortion.

Abortion also clearly affects women: 8 Facts on how abortion hurts women.

I had never heard of Chris before this video, you may not have either, but his story will inspire you: The Chris Coleman Story.

Here is a little encouragement for husbands: Married and Dating.

Do you spend too much time on Social media? Here is a great post from my friend Debra Fileta: 11 Signs you need a break from social media.

Will the evangelical church accept, embrace and support people who live in a homosexual lifestyle? Will the evangelical church embrace gay couples?

And lastly, for a little fun, here are some pretty amazing videos for your enjoyment: 15 Amazing Go Pro Videos.

Thank you for checking out the weekly scoop this week. Feel free to share this with others and if you have any links you believe I should share next week, mention them in the comment section. Enjoy.


How Christians can impact the debate on abortion

abortion

The fight continues day in and day out. The issue has divided the government and the country. Ever since Roe v Wade, abortion has stayed at the forefront of many elections. Does the unborn’s right to live carry more weight than the woman’s right to control her own body? Who has any right to say what a woman can or cannot do to her own body? How can someone say the little baby growing in a mother’s womb is anything but a human life, which therefore means abortion is murder? These are just a few issues the debate over abortion tries to answer. When it comes to abortion, the statistics are staggering when you take the time to check them out. They are heartbreaking as well. Yesterday I posted a blog on The Heart of Abortion. The conclusion I submitted is that abortion has two primary power sources, two driving forces: pride and self-centeredness. Abortion would cease to exist if not for those two notions. In yesterday’s post, I referenced this Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.” I briefly discussed how this mindset had a huge part in the abortion movement towards being legal. It infiltrated the culture and impacted people around the country because it sounds so good. The heart should be what we follow because how can our own hearts lead us wrong? I have to submit that it truly has led us down the wrong path, a path flowing with the blood of the unborn. The question facing the church is how can we help trigger a shift in culture’s mindset regarding abortion? How can we help culture begin to value life, even when that life might interfere with our lives or our dreams? Is this even possible? Do we bring about this change by standing outside abortion clinics and holding signs showing how much we dislike abortions? Should we only vote for politicians who are pro-life? Should we boycott any company that supports Planned Parenthood? How can we truly make the biggest impact and change the future in this topic? While these ways might seem best, they miss the true heart of the issue which is the human heart. If we begin with finding ways to address the human heart, nothing will change. It will be like putting a Band-Aid on something that requires surgery. Here are a three ways I believe followers of Christ can begin to bring about this transformation in culture and thinking: First and foremost, remember our battle is not against flesh and blood

As Christians, we are constantly reminded our true battle with anything in this world is not a battle against other people, but a battle against Satan and the “spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Remembering this will help keep us focused on the true battle. Abortion is simply a product of the Spiritual battle waging in the world right now. If we do not face this issue with this in mind, we will simply try to outshout our opponents, which has never been a true manner to bring about lasting change.  More importantly, as we remember who our true battle is against, it helps us love people as God does and see people As God sees them. When a soldier is in a battle, they are not easily distracted from their task; they are focused on the battle at hand. We as Christians need to have a soldier mentality and not allow ourselves to be so easily distracted with the things of this world; things we have allowed ourselves to believe are more important than they are. I need help with this mindset and if we are to bring about a shift in the area of abortion, we need to remember we are in a spiritual battle.

Invest in the next generation

If the mindset on abortion is going to change, it will be changed by the next generation. If we do not help the next generation see the value of life and how everyone, even an unwanted or unexpected baby, deserves the right to live, nothing will change. For this investment to happen, the church needs to find ways to reach the next generation with the Gospel. We need to get involved in the lives of young people, especially those outside the church. Once again, this cannot be simply putting up youth centers and hoping they come to us, it means we need to get to them. How do we get to them? Move into their neighborhoods, substitute teach in their schools, or coach youth athletic teams. Simply put, we need to get involved in their lives. Think about it, who will be getting abortions in the future? It isn’t the older generation, it is the next generation. We cannot show people how much we care at a distance. If we want people to know we care, it means reaching out to them, it means going to where they are. That is how we impact a generation. This also means getting involved in the lives of families around us which means we need to step outside our houses and spend time getting to know our neighbors.

The other part of investing in the next generation is helping young people within the church truly understand what it means to live as a follower of Christ. The people who are on the front lines of this issue are the young people in our churches right now, the college students down to the middle school and junior high students, even down to elementary students. Those are the people we need to be investing in and training how to live as disciples of Christ. This means we as parents and the older people in the church need to not only model a life worthy of the Gospel, but find ways to get involved in the lives of the younger people in the church. This means if we are not truly giving everything we have for the sake of the Gospel, the youth in our churches won’t either.

“What one generation tolerates, the next will embrace.”

I saw this quote on Twitter and it fits very well in this situation. If we in the church today tolerate a mindset where church is optional and God’s Word is not taught in the home, the next generation will embrace it and church will become even more optional and time in God’s Word will become more sparse. If we tolerate other things being placed over church and over the Gospel, they will embrace it. For us to truly change the mindset towards abortion in this country we have to start with young people and truly invest in them and helping them see there is value to life and no one is an accident. Everyone has a God-given purpose and everyone is loved by God and God desires a relationship with them; that is the message we need to teach the young people in this country.

Live as missionaries

This is by far the most important of the ways we as Christians can make an impact when it comes to the issue of abortion. Missionaries are known as people who go to a certain country or people group and live among them for the purpose of reaching them with Gospel of Jesus Christ. Everything they do from where they live to where they work is based around the purpose of sharing the Gospel with everyone they can. If we are to bring about a change in this country, we have to live with a missionary mindset. I have a friend who models this mindset perfectly while living within what we would call the “Bible belt.” He and his wife and 3 kids had a nice home in one of the nicer areas of Lynchburg, VA. They attended church, they gave faithfully, they helped in soup kitchens and various ministries in their church, and the husband even helped lead a Bible study for a local mission. However, they weren’t satisfied with simply taking time to go into those communities. They wanted something more impactful. They decided to put rent out their house and move into a rented home in what some people would call a more run down area of Lynchburg. They did this because they realized ministry begins with living among the people you want to reach. We can affect people by going to them at various times, but what brings about lasting change is living among people where you can truly have an impact. This is what Jesus did for us. In John 1:14 it says “And the Word (Jesus) became flesh and dwelt among us…” Jesus traded the glory of heaven for the dust and dirt of the earth to live among His creation. The church in America needs to remember the mission field is not overseas, it is right here in our country. What I know is my friend’s family is going to be presented with more opportunities to impact those around them because they live among them. If he had simply continued to reach out and go to them on weekends or other times, he would not have the same impact he does right now by living among them. Imagine if Christians began invading the ghettos and the poorest areas of cities? Imagine if every professing Christian got rid of the idea of living comfortably? Where in the Bible does it tell us to strive to live comfortably? Everything I read in the Bible seems to show we are to live radically and uncomfortably.

The church needs to begin finding ways to get into the world instead of waiting for the world to come to us. One of the main reasons America is where it is right now is because we went through a period where instead of going to the world right outside our doorstep, we began to get comfortable in our churches and houses and neighborhoods and waited for the world to come to us. The church was never meant to be this way. The church was meant to be on mission. Churches used to be built right in the middle of a town or city but now you find so many churches in the suburbs. We need to get back into the city in order to impact it.

  For the church to bring about a shift in thinking on the topic of abortion, these steps are important ones to be taken. We will not have the impact God placed the church here for if we do not take these steps. If we take Jesus’ mission serious, we have no other choice. However, it all has to start with love. As 1 Corinthians 13 says, love needs to be our motivating factor. Our love for God will lead us to a deeper love for Jesus which will lead us to love people as God loves people resulting in our lives bringing glory to God and us having opportunities to share the Gospel with others. If we truly love people as God loves them, we will gain an audience with them and have opportunities to share the hope we have. We will live lives people notice. Why will they notice us? Because we will be living among them, loving them unconditionally and helping them see how much God loves them through our lives. We will be investing in them though they can do nothing for us in return. As we do this, their hearts will be softened and they will be impacted even if they do not believe in God. The most powerful witness for the Gospel is a life lived completely and fully for Christ because when we live that way, people see no hypocrisy and their hearts are opened through our love. This is truly how we bring about this change in our country. It has to start at the bottom, with loving people where they are, not with simply voting pro-life or trying to outshout our opponents. Thanks for taking the time to read this. Feel free to share any comments below. I would love to hear your thoughts.


At the Heart of Abortion

abortion

Planned Parenthood has ended over 6 million lives since 1970. In the United States, there have been over 57 million lives ended due to abortion. In the US, “22% of all pregnancies, excluding miscarriages, end in abortion.”[i] In 2004, the top two reasons for abortions were basically “having a baby would dramatically change my life” and “I can’t afford a baby now.”[ii] If you check out the links in the endnotes, you can see more reasons given for abortions. Around the world, abortions happen both legally and illegally. My heart breaks for all these children and people whose life has been torn apart through procedures known as abortion. How did we get to this point? How did we arrive at the place where a human life is so disposable and expendable? I am sure many of you reading this post have read statistics on abortion because it is such a debated issue. However, if not, here are a couple websites you can check out which give some statistics for abortions:

http://www.worldometers.info/abortions/

http://www.numberofabortions.com/

http://www.johnstonsarchive.net/policy/abortion/

http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_induced_abortion.html

You might disagree with these statistics, however, the fact this many human lives have been ended since 1970 is insane. I cannot wrap my mind around this. As a father, from the very first ultrasound when our daughter looked like a bumblebee, we never thought of her in any other way than as a human being who deserves a chance to live. Parents around the world would echo this sentiment. Even parents who have had an abortion have ended up regretting the choice.

So why write a post on abortion when there are already so many voices on both sides of the issue screaming at each other to no avail? Why do I want to add to this madness? The reason I am writing this post is to simply share a few thoughts God has placed on my heart. If we want to bring an end to abortions, we cannot simply vote against it, or picket abortion clinics or boycott stores, companies and agencies that fund Planned Parenthood. Before we can take action against abortion in a manner that will lead to lasting change, we as Christians need to realize what is truly at play when it comes to abortion, factors that have long been plaguing this world. You would also need to take a look at the changes which occurred through the 1960’s and 1970’s. The big case everyone points to when it comes to abortion is Roe v. Wade in 1973 but the move towards this started long before this case, and has been building and gaining momentum ever since. So if we hope to change a whole cultures perspective on abortion, we need to start with the human heart. The heart is what guides people; the heart is what people listen to most even though it deceives us time and again. I found a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt I believe reveals the shift going on during this period in the United States:

Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.[iii]

This seemed to be the motto of a generation. But the heart can deceive. Why do you think people can fall in and out of love? Because they have not realized their very own hearts can play tricks on them. Our hearts can lead us astray. The Bible, in Jeremiah 17:9 warns us the “heart is deceitful above all things…” Why? Because in the heart of every human being, two notions are at work:

  1. Pride
  2. Self-centeredness

We all struggle with this. No one is above pride and self-centeredness. We all have a desire to be right. We all have a desire to live for ourselves. This is why when we wake up, the first thought on our mind is not always what can I do to help make someone else’s life better, but what do I need to do today. It takes work to care about people the same way we care about ourselves. Children need to be taught to care about others. Children need to be taught everything about life. The way they are taught though is not simply with what we say to them, but in how we live. Our lives have to echo what our words are saying for children to truly catch on. But on the other hand, even children with the most caring parents in the world can still turn out to be self-centered and prideful. And this happens when we do not learn to control our heart and not let it control us.

So how does all of this apply to the topic of abortion? Look at abortion. How many reasons involve the unborn child? Basically every single reason people have abortions comes down to the idea of what is best for me. How many people at Planned Parenthood would ask you what do you think is best for the baby? None of them do that. Even if you look at the website for Planned Parenthood, you will see everything is based on you, your health, your life, your lifestyle, etc.; not the unborn child growing in the mother’s womb. There is probably never even mention about the baby in your womb; it is simply a fetus, something that can be terminated on your request. They never talk about the other options you have such as putting the child up for adoption. However, it is interesting that if a woman driving to an abortion clinic to have an abortion were in a car accident and the “fetus” was killed, the other driver could be charged with man-slaughter. How is that possible if an unborn baby is just a fetus?

It all comes down to pride and self-centeredness. Women today are simply following a philosophy handed down to them through the decades; a philosophy of me, all about me, centered on me and depending on me. You and I face this issue to, but in other ways. We are prideful and self-centered as well. But for many of us, we are able to hide it better because it does not involve another individual’s life. Basically we are all dealing with the issue of sin. And the only thing that can change our hearts is the Gospel. Just like we would say these women making these choices to abort their babies need the Gospel, you and I need it just as much.

Tomorrow, I am going to take a look at what we as Christians need to do if we are to make any kind of difference in this fight for life.


Weekly Scoop

scoop

It’s Friday, which means time for the Weekly Scoop. If you have never been here before, the Weekly Scoop is a list of links I have compiled throughout the week I believe would be worth your time. So, without further ado, here are the links for this weeks Weekly Scoop.

Christianity Today sat down with Chris Tomlin where he opened up on different topics from worship to justice and leading people to experience God: Chris Tomlin – On Top of the World.

Timothy Tennent writes about how the movie “Saving Mr. Banks” got him thinking about the Gospel and contextualization. A great article: Saving Mr. Banks and the contextualization of the Gospel.

Has culture reached a “moral gag reflex”: Miley Cyrus and the Moral Gag Reflex.

How we talk about abortion to people can be effective, especially when done in a loving and caring way: I was Pro-Choice 3 months ago.

The Public Service Announcement from New Zealand that changed my driving habits (Caution: This is not for the faint of heart): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvLaTupw-hk
Geoff Surratt shares 3 things the church could learn from the popular TV show Downton Abbey: Lessons from Downton Abbey.
Jeff Strong writes a thought provoking article on mistakes Christian parents make with teenagers: Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents  of Teens Make.
And one more parenting article: Homeschool Blindspots.
And to end with a little humor: 20 Ridiculously Ironic Pictures.
Thanks for taking the time to check out my Weekly Scoop. If you came across something worth sharing, please share it in the comments, or message me and I can put it in next weeks scoop. Feel free to share this with anyone you believe would benefit from this.

When You are NOT Chosen

chosen

This morning, I was reading through Acts 1. The last 6 verses talk about the disciples finding a replacement for Judas Iscariot. After discussing it among themselves, they came up with two people from which to choose the one to replace Judas. They were Joseph, called Barsabbas and Matthias. Verses 24-26 have this to say about how they went about choosing between the two:

And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

I have read this passage a number of times and never really gave much thought to it because the apostles decided they needed someone to take the place of Judas and they prayed about it and asked God to point out which one and after the lot fell on Matthias, it was a done deal. I never really put more thought into it. Lesson is when big decisions need to be made, be sure to pray and seek God’s counsel so you make the wise decision. However, this morning, the passage stuck with me and something else came about I had never really thought about.

What happened to Joseph, or Barsabbas who was also known as Justus? Even though he was apparently qualified enough for the position, God did not choose him. For some of us, we know what it is like to not be picked for something. Maybe it was for a team in gym class or maybe it was being chosen for an All-Star team in some sport. You thought you deserved the position but it was given to someone else. To make things harder, it was given to someone you were pretty equal with talent wise. I have been in a position like this before where I was applying for a job where it came down to them hiring me, or moving someone from within the company into the position instead. It seemed each time this happened, they went with the person already within the company to fill the position I had applied and interviewed for. However, this is something much more important than simply being picked for a team or a job. This position was once held by someone who Jesus had chosen to follow Him. This position was an esteemed position because the men he was joining were the men who spent the most time with Jesus out of anyone else alive. But, the decision did not ultimately come down to the 11 apostles voting or the 120 others present; they prayed and left the decision in God’s hands. After deciding who was qualified enough for the position, they left the final say in God’s hands and God made it known through the casting of lots; Matthias would take Judas’ place.

I can only imagine the tension that might have been present in the room when this decision was finalized and Matthias was chosen. But at the same time, maybe there was no tension. Maybe Joseph was completely fine with this decision and was truly happy for Matthias. However, if I know humans, and I do since I am one, Joseph probably felt a bit of a letdown in his heart. He was probably disappointed to an extent because what human wouldn’t be if this were to happen to them? Is it wrong to have this feeling afterwards? No. But what is wrong is if you let this feeling take hold of your heart and do not keep it under control. Being tempted is not sin; acting on those temptations is sin.

There are 3 references linked to this passage where the man spoken of could be the same Joseph spoken of here in verse 23: Acts 15:22-34; Acts 18:7 and Colossians 4:11. I would encourage you to check them out. If they are the same person, it really speaks to the character of this man. When we are placed in a situation like this, we have 2 choices:

  1. We can allow the fact we were not chosen to lead us to become bitter people with a chip on our shoulder. We can believe with all of our heart we should have been the person picked for that position. But, since God did not give it to me, there must be some reason why so I am just going to “sit and sour” and bring down others with me. Yes I will still come to church but I am not going to give it my all anymore. I am going to stop serving in the same capacity. I am going to want to be served instead of serving. Why should I since when I did, God apparently did not like my work enough to give me the higher position. So I am just going to be bitter.
  1. We can realize even though we were not chosen for this specific position, God has something better for us to be doing for the body of Christ which will ultimately bring us more joy. Too often we want to fight for the higher positions thinking they are more important when the fact is, the church is a body. A body needs everything working together and filling their specific roles to remain healthy. So it is with the church. The church needs everyone working together and filling their God-given roles in order to work properly and in the way God intended. If we do not strive to find what God wants us doing and where God wants us serving, we are not the only ones who suffer, the body of Christ suffers.

To conclude, see what 1 Corinthians 12:18-20 has to say: “But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as He chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.” There is not part of the body that can tell another part, I have no need for you. If Joseph had chosen to get bitter, the body of Christ would have suffered. Even though Joseph was not chosen by God for that one specific position, God had another place for him to serve. So, if you have ever experienced the feeling of not being chosen, you are not alone. There are numerous stories throughout the Bible of people who are not chosen for something. It was not because God did not love them the same. Many times we do not know why God works the way He does. I have wondered this many times in my own life when God has closed a door. As I look back at my life, one thing I know God has wanted me to keep doing, and what He desires for each individual member of His body, is what 2 Peter 1:10 says:

“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”


Labeling and the Gospel

labels

Why are we as Christians so into labeling people? That person is an alcoholic. This person is greedy. That guy is a homosexual. That girl is a back-stabber. The world has done a great job of labeling people and all it has done is hurt relationships. When we label people, we strip them of their identity and in some ways their humanity. Then we identify them by whatever label given to them instead of the fact they are a human, created in God’s image. In my opinion, nothing positive comes from labeling. The Church should know this and refrain from labeling. However, we are just as guilty as the world. I do not believe God looks down from heaven and identifies us any other way than one of His creations and an image-bearer. I do not think He looks on people and identifies them by the sin they struggle with. I want to share two things about labeling.

  1. What do we have to gain by not labeling people? We can gain a love for others and learn to treat them as Jesus treated people. We can be moved with compassion towards people because we begin to see people as Jesus did. In Mark 2:13-17 we see Jesus eating with people described as “tax collectors and sinners.” Why do you think Jesus was able to eat with people described with these words? Because Jesus did not see and define them as the world did. In Mark 1:41 and Matthew 14:14 we read that Jesus saw people and was moved with compassion. He was moved because He saw people made in the image of God. It seems the only people Jesus labeled were the religious. Since Jesus did not get into the game of labeling people, it opened up doors for Him to preach the Gospel to their lives. I have no doubt the sinners and tax collectors knew what Jesus believed about what they were doing, but they probably kept coming to Jesus because He did not label them as such and He treated them as individuals.
  1. What do Christians have to lose with labeling people? We lose a chance at friendship and a relationship with someone who needs Christ. Christians do not like it when people label us as hypocrites or anything else yet we are guilty of the same thing. What if people labeled us by the sin we struggle with? It would hinder our friendship and relationship with that person. If we want to reach the world steeped in sin, we need to stop labeling people by the sin they struggle with and start reaching out to them. Once someone knows we are a Christian, we don’t need to constantly preach to them or remind them that how they are living is sinful. They know we believe this. They want to see us treat them as people who are made in the image of God. They are not what they struggle with. They are not a homosexual. They are not an alcoholic. They are not a gossip. They might struggle with that sin, but that does not take away from the fact they are still made in God’s image. We all at one time or another struggled with sin and we would have hated to be known or labeled by that sin.

So if we want to reach a lost world with the Gospel, let’s treat people as they are, created in God’s image and worthy of and in need of God’s grace…just like we are. God loves them just as much as He loves us. And if we are honest with ourselves, we know that apart from the Gospel of God’s grace, we are no better off than who we might label as the worst sinner we know. Let’s remember we were once in their shoes and let’s treat them as we would want to be treated. Let’s preach the Gospel fully and love people unconditionally because that is what Jesus came to do.

 


Review: The Global War on Christians

Exposing-the-Global-War-on-Christians

For this review, I am simply going to get right to the point. With The Global War on Christians, there really is no beating around the bush. Mr. Allen gets right to the point and that is, around the world, there is a war going on in regards to people who profess to be Christians. Some of you might be surprised by this while others of you have known about this for years. In many ways, we are living in an era where more Christians are dying for their faith than any other time in the history of the world.

So why is it important for us to know this? If we do not face this in our lives, why do we need to spend our time reading about what others around the world are facing? If I simply pray for them, will that not be enough? Praying for them is a good start but it is far from being what God has called us to. Hebrews 13:3 issues this challenge: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Simply thinking about them and praying for them every once in a while is not enough. Suppose a member of your family were to start being mistreated simply for being a part of your family, you would fight for them wouldn’t you? You would go to great measures to make sure people knew of your plight. You would want everyone to know what was going on so they could help in some way or another. That is what this book is good for. Global War helps us as Christians hear and know what is facing our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world. We should want to know this so we can inform other believers. We are a family in Christ and our hearts should hurt for those around the world who are not allowed to practice what they believe without fearing for their lives.

As of now, the severe persecution Christians are facing around the world has not made its way to the United States to the same extent as it is other places. However, the way things are going, it will eventually happen and we should not be surprised. John Allen wants people to know what is going on around the world and he has put time into this book through research and traveling to different parts of the world to help educate us as followers of Christ as to what is going on around the world. The worst thing we can do is remain ignorant.

Personally, before reading this book, I knew Christians were persecuted and their lives were taken because of what they believed, but I had no idea of the extent. While reading Global War, I was constantly thinking how strong is my faith? Is my relationship with the Lord strong enough to face severe persecution? If not, then something is missing and I need to get on my knees and ask God to strengthen my faith. I have heard it said many times that if we as Christians are not facing any opposition in our lives from the world with choices we are making day to day then we need to see if we are really living for the Lord. This statement is not made to say we should be troublemakers, always trying to raise problems with how we believe, but we should be living our lives in such a way that people can notice we are different. This book also helped me continue to see the importance of taking the Gospel to the world and God’s call to make disciples of all nations. It will not be easy but God never promised our mission would be easy, He did promise to be there with us through it all.

Simply put, you should read this book to educate yourself as to what the body of Christ is facing around the world. It is not for the weak of heart though as Mr. Allen does not hold back in what he writes. There are Christians who have faced brutal deaths and persecution over their faith in God and he wants us to know about it. So go ahead and pick up a copy of The Global War on Christians, it will be worth your time.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review as a part of their Blogging for Books program in exchange for an honest review.


Weekly Scoop

It’s Friday and here is the first Weekly Scoop of 2014. I have taken a couple weeks off from the Scoop but am happy to get it going again. I am excited about what this New Year and look forward to what God is going to do. This Weekly Scoop is more for people in the ministry but regardless I believe they would be worth anyone’s time. Without further ado, here are a few links you should check out:

Last year I came across Justin Lathrop through Twitter and I am glad I did. His posts are great and I would highly recommend you look him up. Here are two posts of his you should look into: Becoming a Great Leader and Becoming a Better Storyteller.

Tony Morgan is another individual I recently came across who commonly posts very insightful articles for anyone to read. The articles I am linking to today would be great for anyone in ministry to take the time to read: Mistakes Teaching Pastors should Avoid and Things People want to know before they will give to your church.

Scott Williams is yet one more person you should look into. He served for a couple years as a Campus Pastor for LifeChurch.tv’s Northwest Oklahoma City Campus. He currently serves as Chief Solutions Officer for Nxt Level Solutions. He has a heart for Jesus and helping people use their God given abilities. Here are two posts of his for you to check out: 14 Things God Says About You and How To Effectively Manage your Time in 2014.

If you have ever wanted to see 50 of the most extraordinary churches in the world, then you have come to the right place. Click on the link to see some strange, unique, beautiful as well as some downright weird church architecture: 50 Most Extraordinary Churches in the World.

Lastly, here is a link to some free curriculum from Brad Hambrick. If you are looking for some curriculum for your church, this is worth your time: 7 Free Video Curriculum from 2013.

Thank you for taking the time to check out this Weekly Scoop. If you like what you see here, feel free to share with friends or on Twitter or Facebook. You can also subscribe to this blog and have every post sent straight to your email. Thanks again for your time. If you feel there is something I missed that is worth sharing, let me know in the comments. God bless.