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  1. U.S. Justice Department Demands North Carolina Not Enforce New Restroom Law By Heather Clark Christian News Network WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Justice has sent a letter to the governor of North Carolina declaring that a newly-passed law requiring the use of government restrooms to be consistent with one’s birth gender violates the federal Civil Rights Act, and is demanding confirmation by Monday that officials […] The post U.S. Justice Department Demands North Carolina Not Enforce New Restroom Law appeared first on . View the full article
  2. Christians across America are frustrated. Some are discouraged. Some are fearful. Some are hopeless. Our culture is shifting before our very eyes, and there seems to be little to nothing we can do to stop it. We see the decaying morals and we sense the intolerance toward Christians growing around us. Pastors, too, become discouraged with it all. Those serving in ministry wonder if there is hope for our nation or for revival. But lest we bemoan the difficult times in our country today, could I remind you that the gospel has prospered in even more difficult times in years past. In fact, the Apostle Paul is believed to have written the book of 2 Timothy from the Mamertime Prison in Rome. He wrote at an incredibly difficult time both in world history and in his life. Christians everywhere were persecuted, and he knew he was only a short time from his own martyrdom. What was his instruction at this critical period? Continue. He told Timothy to continue. Paul didn’t sugarcoat his message. He straight up told Timothy that the godly will suffer, and the weak will be deceived (2 Timothy 3:12–13). But he followed those observations with a direct command: But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;—2 Timothy 3:14 It is the same message I preached this week to our West Coast Baptist College class of 2016: Continue. As our newest graduating class enters ministry, they face sizeable challenges. They are going into ministry in a culture that, by and large, is resistant toward truth and intolerant of those who preach it. So what do we do in the midst of such a culture shift? Do we look for a new philosophy of ministry? More palatable doctrine? Culturally-acceptable preaching? No, as I challenged our new graduates this week, we continue. 1. Continue to Believe Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.—1 Timothy 4:16 What you believe matters. That is why Paul told Timothy to continue in the things he had “learned and been assured of.” Paul knew that he had taught Timothy the doctrines of the Word of God. When you know the truth regarding the doctrine of the Scriptures, of the deity of Christ, of His atoning work on the cross, of His resurrection, and of the local church, don’t give those truths up—for anything. It is only the gospel that has power to free a sin-bound soul. It is only the Word of God that can mend a broken life. It is only the local church that is the called out, purchased possession of Jesus. Continue to believe these truths. I’m afraid that cultural pressure combined with our natural tendency to drift has left many preachers who were once strong in what they believed more concerned with relevance than with truth. Unfortunately, it is the world, who cannot see the difference between themselves and the church, who suffers. Others, with a desire to grow their ministry have been willing to compromise doctrinally. But the primary barometer of success has never been numerical; it is continuance in the truth. Remember, the men and women who have moved the world have been the men and women the world could not move. Continue in the truth. 2. Continue to Remember Even as Paul told Timothy to continue in the truth, he reminded him, “knowing of whom thou hast learned them.” Most people in ministry have lived long enough to be disappointed by men. But lest you allow those disappointments to turn your steps in another direction, could I remind you that you’ve also lived long enough to receive the investments of men. The fact is, God has ordained our growth and learning to oftentimes come through men and women who invest in our lives. Don’t sever ties with all who have invested in you because someone else has failed you. It is a tendency of immaturity that disregards or devalues teachers, instructors, and mentors. Thankfully, Timothy did not do this. Rather, he remembered Paul and followed his faith. Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.—Hebrews 13:7 I challenge you, as I challenged our graduates this week, keep those strong mentoring relationships with pastors and teachers intact. Allow those who have loved and invested in you continued entrance into your life. 3. Continue to Proclaim Yes, our society is rejecting truth. But that is all the more reason it needs gospel preachers who will proclaim the truth. I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.—2 Timothy 4:1–2 I love what Spurgeon said: “A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it. No Christ in your sermon, sir? Then go home and never preach again until you have something worth preaching.” We do have something worth preaching—the gospel of Christ and the love of God. We have the gospel that radically changes lives—even radically sinful lives. (See 1 Corinthians 6:9–11.) Keep proclaiming it. Keep witnessing. Keep preaching. Keep intersecting God’s Word with needy hearts. Keep bringing the gospel message to lost souls. Hope in the Battle I know that some days we feel beleaguered. We wonder how much further our culture will shift, who will be elected next, what kind of legislation is going to sneak up on us this week, when and how our freedoms may be taken. But God does not only command us to continue in the truth—He urges us to continue with hope! Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;—Titus 2:13 Christ is returning…and we know it! Yes, there are challenges, and there will be more ahead. But the gospel is as powerful today as it was in the first century. And the hope of Christ’s return is as real today as it was when Jesus ascended to Heaven. If you’re struggling today with the shifts in culture or uncertainty in your positions, could I challenge you? Rededicate yourself to continue. Continue to believe true doctrine, to remember those who have taught you, and to proclaim the very gospel of Jesus Christ. And if you think you would be helped by three days of encouragement to continue, I invite you to join us for Spiritual Leadership Conference in Lancaster next month. Our theme this year is both simple and practical: Continue. Related posts: 3 Preachers Who Should Quit Growth Points 66: A Biblical Response to Changes in Our Culture, Part 2 A Message for Millennials, Baby Boomers, and Others Who Follow Jesus View the full article
  3. Mercy and Truth

    “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” (Psalm 85:10) The words “mercy” (Hebrew checed, also often translated by “kindness” or “lovingkindness”) and “truth” (Hebrew emeth) occur more often in the psalms than in any other book. In fact, “mercy”... More... View the full article
  4. The English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible. “A Dream Come True”? – UPDATED LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails is not what some term “KJV Only.” However, we have come to trust the King James Bible more than other versions, and this is what we use for our articles and books. That said, we have strong concerns about many of the new modern translations (and paraphrases that are treated like […] The post The English Standard Version (ESV) Study Bible. “A Dream Come True”? – UPDATED appeared first on . View the full article
  5. Bono Meets With “The Message” Author Eugene Peterson The following is posted for informational and research purposes and not as an endorsement. The video is part of a new film project by the emergent Fuller Theological Seminary. To him who has ears to hear, let him hear. Related Information: NEW BOOKLET TRACT: The Message “Bible”— A Breach of Truth The New Age […] The post Bono Meets With “The Message” Author Eugene Peterson appeared first on . View the full article
  6. (Note: You will not find an endorsement, a political agenda, or any mention of current politicians in this post. This is purely a biblically objective “gut-check” to challenge our thinking and encourage our hearts, lest we lose our minds and emotional sense amidst the constant flurry of election-season opinions. This is probably more for myself than anyone else, but perhaps these thoughts will encourage you.) The Apostle Paul is at the end of his ministry, in a Roman prison cell. He is the captive of one of the worst tyrants in world history—the Emperor Nero (famous for dipping Christians in oil and burning them on stakes in his garden during parties.) Paul has spent his life zealously loving God, preaching Christ, planting churches, and fueling New Testament Christianity. He did it all in a most unfavorable political climate. The ruling class—Jewish religious leaders (quite criminal and corrupt) and the Roman authorities (quite brutal)—provided persistent threats to New Testament Christians. Yet, those earthly powers could not quench the joy of Christians or the power of the gospel. From that dark, seemingly hopeless prison cell, Paul writes to Philippian Christians, eager to fuel their joy by comforting them regarding his joy. His message is simple and powerful—the gospel is our eternal hope, our indestructible joy, and our ultimate future—therefore we can rejoice. This election season, I’m not writing from a prison cell. Even as my country struggles spiritually, America is still an “anomaly of freedom and liberty” that appears quite unexpectedly on the landscape of tyrannical world history. If world history teaches Christians anything, it is that God is sovereign and that the gospel is not bound by governing powers in any way. May I challenge you to calibrate your emotions to the promises of God’s word? May I encourage you to remember “this world is not my home?” May I remind you of how God comforted His people in the most dire political circumstances imaginable? In light of our present political season, may I encourage you to consider some of Paul’s admonitions to the Philippians as Nero ruled the known world? “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:” (Philippians 1:6) “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; 10 That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ; 11 Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11) “But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;” (Philippians 1:12) “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;” (Philippians 1:27) “Do all things without murmurings and disputings:” (Philippians 2:14 ) “That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; 16 Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.” (Philippians 2:15, 16) “Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe.” (Philippians 3:1) “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:14) “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.” (Philippians 3:20, 21) “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. 5 Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7 And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7) Isn’t it awesome to be saved? Isn’t it incredible to be able to watch world events unfold, political seasons come and go, and to view it all from the private box-seats that we have as “children of the King?” World events, global powers, and temporary governments are powerless against the child of God who is held together by the grace of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Christian’s “campaign” is simply Jesus—“…we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:23) “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” (1 Corinthians 2:2) The Christian’s king is no less than Jesus Himself. And He is a great, eternal King. His promises are reliable. His word will stand. His hand is in control of world events and shifting governing powers. Isn’t it awesome to be able to so radically “downsize” the spiritual and emotional impact of the four-year election cycle by filtering it through a biblical lens of world history? Think about it with me: God permitted the raising up of Saul, who became filled with pride. Then He brought David to reign, who cheated on his multiple wives and committed murders for political advantage. Then God raised up Solomon who began wisely but then spun widely and oppressively out of control. A few hundred years later, after a lot of national turmoil and transition, God raised up Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar, a pagan who accomplished the exact purposes of God. Some decades later, another pagan, King Cyrus of Persia, was the unlikely ruler responsible for sending God’s people back to Israel to rebuild His temple. Then another Persian King Artaxerxes sent Nehemiah back home to Israel to rebuild the wall around Jerusalem. Ironically, both the temple and the wall were paid for by the Persian empire. (Sort of like the first tabernacle as paid for with the spoils of Egypt.) God revealed the rise and fall of entire empires to His prophet Daniel. He sent His own son (the eternal King) into one of the most oppressed and desperate times of world history. He lived, ministered, died, and rose again all while never being able to “vote” one time on a president or a form of civil government. Why these considerations? Because God doesn’t do things our way, and we can’t presume good or bad outcomes. He doesn’t owe us an explanation of who rules, when, for how long, and why. God can use whoever He chooses to do whatever He chooses—and quite often His plan doesn’t look like what I thought it should. That doesn’t mean I despair. It means I rest and trust—and stay focused on the mission He has given to me. His way often appears perplexing, that’s what makes Him God. In my lifetime of elections, “my guy” has won sometimes, and often “my guy” has not. I’m not even saying that I have “a guy” this time. I have a God, a Saviour, a risen Jesus and my cause is His gospel. For this reason, the election season, for me, is entertaining, perhaps disturbing, but not uprooting or despairing. When viewing through a biblical and eternal lens, the votes of the populace neither encourage nor discourage. How so? Because emotions of the heart aren’t tied to election results. For the Christian, the gospel should hold your emotions and your hope. If the gospel is the source of your security and stability, then emotions don’t rise or fall with populace election cycles. If confidence is in Jesus Christ, the confidence doesn’t rise or fall with the right or wrong candidate. If your guy wins, confidence doesn’t grow, because how can confidence in Christ be any stronger? On the other hand, if your guy loses, confidence doesn’t diminish, because Christ has not grown weaker. Jesus didn’t lose. Jesus always wins. Confidence in Him is a fixed position—unshakeable, indestructible. When Nero rules, Jesus still reigns. Why these biblical considerations? Because God truly is in control, in spite of opinions to the contrary. And His call to Christians is to advance the gospel from heart to heart regardless of the rise and fall of state powers (as opposed to creating a Christian state.) Indeed, world history gives us another slate of lessons on those who fought to establish a “Christian state”—and in every case, the experiment went horribly bad. Man has never succeeded when trying to accomplish God’s ultimate purpose for Him rather than with Him. (Personally, we could remember Abraham helping God with his promised son. Politically, we might recall Constantine assisting God with the establishment of “Christianity” as the world religion, or reformers oppressing Anabaptists for not accepting infant baptism.) Every time we attempt to “get God’s plan done” our way and in our time, we swing wildly off course. Every time we trust His power, wait on His timing, and rest in His sovereign purpose, we see God do the unexpected. He loves to do the impossible though the unthinkable! He delights to turn events in ways that shine light only upon Himself! He loves to turn the dire into the divine! God specializes in blessing the undaunted faith of those who stare in the face of perplexing circumstances, smile, and hopefully say, “Wow… I can’t wait to see how God is going to glorify His name in all of this!” He loves to advance the gospel from a prison cell in the basement of the ruler who is trying to crush Christianity. He loves to spark revival as soldiers and servants come to Christ right under the nose of the guy who is lighting Christians on fire in his garden. As Nero is lighting Christians on fire, new Christians are being born in his own basement! How cool is that!? Paul writes of his prison experience—“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; 13 So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places; 14 And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” (Philippians 1:12-14) But the story gets better! He ends the letter to Philippi with this verse— “All the saints salute you, chiefly they that are of Caesar’s household.” (Philippians 4:22) Yes, a gospel revival was happening in Nero’s household! What?!? I wish I could see the facial expressions of the Philippian Christians when they got to that line of the letter! Picture extreme shock, dismay, and then loud rejoicing and laughter! I’m not sure, but I’m guessing this is where the “high five” actually began! What do we learn from this? We learn that the gospel of Jesus Christ places God’s redeemed into a different, bigger, ultimate reality! The things which are seen are made of things that are invisible! (“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:18) We learn that what is true about Jesus, about us, and about the future is absolutely indestructible. We learn that the media cycles of selling the sensational and the election cycles of campaign politics are but vapors of brief, human noise—like specs of dust on God’s vast canvas—His ultimate, eternal purpose for the ages and for all of eternity. We learn to look up! We learn to anchor our hearts in eternal hope rather than our petty grasps for temporal hope. We learn to root ourselves deeper into the gospel. We learn to look out further than four years… or forty years… We learn to truly trust Jesus. We learn than any hope placed in any candidate is misplaced hope for the Christian. We learn that His plan is not ours, and He is not obligated to follow our map in accomplishing His purpose. We need to remember Jesus words, “…All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” (Matthew 28:18) Consider what God says about earthly powers… “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south. 7 But God is the judge: he putteth down one, and setteth up another. 8 For in the hand of the LORD there is a cup, and the wine is red; it is full of mixture; and he poureth out of the same: but the dregs thereof, all the wicked of the earth shall wring them out, and drink them. 9 But I will declare for ever; I will sing praises to the God of Jacob.” (Psalms 75:6-9) “God hath spoken once; twice have I heard this; that power belongeth unto God.” (Psalms 62:11) “By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. 16 By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” (Proverbs 8:15, 16) “I have made the earth, the man and the beast that are upon the ground, by my great power and by my outstretched arm, and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me.” (Jeremiah 27:5) “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” (Romans 13:1) “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; 14 Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. 15 For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: 16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. 17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” (1 Peter 2:13-17) So there you have my “non-endorsing” election-season gut check! May I close by saying, I love America… and I love Jesus preeminently. I thank God for this nearly 250 year span of world history in which God has granted us political favor and freedom. First Century Christians would never have imagined such a thing, this side of Heaven! Truly we are blessed beyond measure with freedom and preach the gospel. I urge you to participate in the process afforded to us by the sacrifice and shed blood of hundreds of thousands of courageous Americans over the last two centuries. Engage in the process, but don’t hope in it. Don’t anchor your heart to a candidate. Don’t think that losing is losing, and don’t think that winning is winning. Don’t think that a party, or a candidate of any party, is any guarantee of a certain political outcome. Should you vote? Absolutely. Not voting is indeed “a vote”—and as my friend Pastor Butch Wolverton wrote this morning, “Unless we are voting for Jesus, it is always going to be the lesser of two [or three or four] evils.” Every American election has always been a vote for the “lesser of evils”—and history records, we’ve had some pretty immoral, anti-bible presidents, going back as far as the 1700’s. Somehow God has preserved our liberty in spite of majority votes. Simply stated, we owe our freedoms and liberties to God alone, not to the ruling of righteous men (though I much prefer a godly ruler!). Perhaps, most importantly, don’t equate the blessing or favor of God to a personally preferred political outcome. Don’t tie “the American dream” to the “favor of God.” That would have been disastrous for Old Testament Israel. It would have been disastrous for first century Christians. It would be disastrous for persecuted Christians around the world. And it would be disastrous for us today in 21st century American culture. God’s grace is not contingent upon a populace vote, and the gospel can thrive in any political climate. This side of Heaven, the gospel is not a road-map to favorable circumstances. It’s a hope that holds us together in spite of circumstances. The gospel doesn’t give us a way of eluding trouble, it’s a resource of hope and strength through trouble. May we, as Christians, use the “time remaining” to preach the gospel of grace and to lift up Jesus until He comes! And may we rest, hope, and rejoice in Him, regardless of favorable or unfavorable circumstances. Until Jesus comes, we anchor our hearts to this event, toward which the “whole of creation” moves: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15) PS—Don’t under-estimate God’s ability to get the attention of ungodly men… Nebuchadnezzar is a good example of how God deals with the hearts of leaders. (Closing Note: Because I have no desire to engage in lengthy, distracting election season “back and forth” I respectfully closed comments on this post. If it encouraged you and you care to let me know, shoot me an email. If it bothered you, I apologize, as that was not my goal.) View the full article
  7. Holocaust Remembrance – When Hitler Was in Power – by a Holocaust Survivor When Hitler Was in Power – Memories of a Jewish Girl by Anita Dittman (From the booklet with the same name) 1939 Breslau, Germany I was twelve years old and entering early teen years living in Nazi Germany. Often as the lights went out at night, I lapsed into self-pity and cried myself to sleep. […] The post Holocaust Remembrance – When Hitler Was in Power – by a Holocaust Survivor appeared first on . View the full article
  8. If you’ve read here for a while you know how much I love the lyrics written by Fanny Crosby. One of my favorites is Redeemed. Redeemed, how I love to proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; redeemed through His infinite mercy, His child, and forever I am. I also love Katherine Hankey’s story telling: I love to tell the story Of unseen things above, Of Jesus and His glory, Of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story, Because I know its true; It satisfies my longings As nothing else would do. I love to tell the story, 'Twill be my theme in glory To tell the old, old story Of Jesus and His love. And I’m blessed to know that the story continues to be told today. These lyrics, from C. T. Townsend, are also Redeemed: Seems like all I could see was the struggle Haunted by ghosts that lived in my past Bound up in shackles of all my failures Wondering how long is this gonna last Then You look at this prisoner and say to me “Son, stop fighting a fight that's already been won” Then comes the chorus: I am redeemed You set me free So I'll shake off theses heavy chains And wipe away every stain Now I'm not who I used to be I am redeemed I am redeemed With my feelings being expressed, I sing these songs unto the Lord, as have many others: Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I, will sing unto the LORD; I will sing praise to the LORD God of Israel. (Judges 5:3 KJV) Sing unto the LORD, all the earth; shew forth from day to day his salvation. (1 Chronicles 16:23 KJV) I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me. (Psalms 13:6 KJV) Which brings us to the title, I Have Been Blessed, also by C. T. Townsend, for I truly am blessed. Just this past week my husband and I received a gift. We had wanted this item for some time, but it simply did not fit into our budget. We had not even asked the Lord for it, since the impact to our lives would be minor – and there are so many other prayers we think take precedent. We have prayers for loved ones to come to know Christ’s love, God’s planned redemption designed from creation, that encompasses all who believe in Him. That’s all laid out in John 3:16-19, a condensed version of the Bible’s message. That, by God’s grace, is the greatest blessing. However, He sees to our needs, thus we receive blessings daily – and this song speaks of them: When He walks among us, all that He does, All of His mercy and all of His love. If the pen of a writer could write every day even this world could never contain just how I've been blessed The warmth in the winter, the flowers in spring, the laughter of summer, and the changing of leaves. Food on my table, a good place to sleep, clothes on my back and shoes on my feet. Oh, I have been blessed. Arms that will raise, a voice that can talk, hands that can touch and legs that can walk. Ears that can listen and eyes that can see, oh, I've got to praise Him as long as I breathe. 'Cause I have been blessed There’s more to the song – just as there is much more to the Bible than a single passage. However, the message remains the same. When walking with God, I have been redeemed and blessed beyond measure. Please, walk with Him for a way – a way to live being blessed – and we can share together.View the full article
  9. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) There are many wonderful promises to the believer listed in the gospel of John. Many of these promises are things which “shall” happen, but let us consider seven of these which teach of things which ... More... View the full article
  10. Tantric (Contemplative) Sex and Christianity—NOT a Match Made in Heaven The Bible says we live in a “crooked and perverse” world and that as believers we are to “shine as lights in the world”(Philippians 2:15). The closer we move toward the “end of the age” (Matthew 24), the darker and more perverse the world becomes. Global peace plans, inter-faith movements, emergent spiritualities, and other carnal-induced […] The post Tantric (Contemplative) Sex and Christianity—NOT a Match Made in Heaven appeared first on . View the full article
  11. Oh, you have one. One that can be described with words mine asked us to do: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:5 KJV) Something in our lives will be loved with all our heart. It will be in our minds at all times. We will do things in service to what we have in our hearts and minds. I’d like to know more about yours. Here are some tidbits about mine: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1 KJV) Yes, I believe in a singular creator who created everything we know today. I refer to Him because the Bible does and He appeared on the earth as a man. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. (Luke 2:10-11 KJV) I believe this man was a sacrifice Abraham mentioned: And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together. (Genesis 22:8 KJV) I also believe this man born in Bethlehem is God: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. (John 1:1-3 KJV) That’s part all the counsel of God referred to by Paul as he explained what and why he preached: Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Acts 20:26-27 KJV) Except for scripture, I believe no man gives us all the counsel of God – yet it would take all the scriptures to understand just a part of what God has planned for mankind. So far, how does my God compare with yours? Mine loves: We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? (1 John 4:19-20 KJV) My God has requirements: For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. (John 3:17-19 KJV) My God will divide those who believe upon Him from those who believeth not. My God lived as a perfect man, died as an ordinary man and was resurrected as proof He was more than a man. You can learn much more about mine from the Bible. Where may I learn of yours?View the full article
  12. Ministry involves a lot of meetings. We meet for church, for fellowship, for planning, for relationships, for outreach, for discipleship. We meet with church family, with staff, with guests. We meet for lots of reasons and in lots of contexts. How are your meetings? Do people want to attend? Are they well done? Well planned? Well executed? Well received? Are they successful? Do they engage people? Do they take ministry forward? Do they help people grow spiritually? A second-rate meeting (whether a church service or a staff meeting) will inevitably produce second-rate ministry. Meetings are “what we do.” Most effective ministry takes place, in one way or another, in a meeting. This post is a proposal that we “make meetings great again!” This is essentially that our team uses as a check-list for an effective meeting. It came from training with our staff at EBC. This list represents our goal to “make meetings great again!” 1. Plan a Great Meeting Get Together—Assemble the team responsible for the meeting (well in advance, weeks or months.) Brainstorm the Meeting—what should happen to make it effective, what could happen to make it great? Develop a Plan—create a list of categories or responsibilities such as: promotion, materials, technical support, food, hosting, facility prep., clean up, etc. Create an Action List—list all the items that need to happen for each area of oversight. Cleanly Delegate Responsibilities. Make sure the team knows who is responsible for every aspect of the meeting, and that everybody is committed to owning their particular responsibilities. Set a Follow-Up Meeting—get the team together a week later and evaluate every area, every task. Mark progress, answer questions, solve problems, assess forward momentum. Do this all over again, and again as you get closer to the meeting. As a Leader, Evaluate and Assess Progress. You must monitor “are we staying on track?” If not, you must act and provide solutions to getting on track. Make it Better. All of our meetings should be excellent. They should be excellent in planning, delegation, preparation, execution, follow through. People ought to attend these meetings and see preparation, competence, and excellence. 2. Prepare for a Great Meeting Who Needs to Come?—invite them, confirm them, remind them. What’s the Purpose?—plan the agenda and time schedule. What’s the Information?—write the handout, prepare the information, proof read it carefully, have others proof read it. Is there Food?—Plan the costs, shop for it, enlist help with it. What’s the Location?—communicate location and information. 3. Create a Great Environment Set Up the Space—tables, chairs, table cloths, trash, podium, sound, decor., etc. Clear Out the Clutter—nothing should be in this space that doesn’t belong there and serve a purpose for being there. Just to be clear—put away extra chairs, easels, toys, vacuums, junk, trash, extension chords, old papers, clutter. The space should be as neat and orderly as it can be for our facility and resources. Music—always, always, always, always, always have music playing at least twenty minutes before any service or meeting. Lights—turn on all the lights. Don’t light part of a room. Always light the space. (unless you’re having a film night.) Temperature—Every human being is the equipvalent of a 100 watt light bulb in terms of heat, so err to the cooler side. Consider how the room will feel with all the bodies that are coming into it. Air Movement—even in winter, it’s important for a room to always have air circulating. Still rooms get stifling and stuffy very quickly, and stuffy meetings are sheer misery. Nothing will kill a service faster than dead air. Technical Support—line up sound, recording, and projection help. That should all be set up and checked at least twenty minutes before the meeting begins. No checking mics right before the meeting starts. No last minute preparation. Ushers, Servers, Help—do we need help for this meeting? Enlist them and help them know how they can facilitate the meeting. Childcare—do we need to provide child care for this meeting? Review the Environment—before the meeting, stop and look around for a moment. Feel the whole environment. Walk through it. Look at the entry. Are things out of place? Are things missing? Develop an intuitive sense of environment—when there’s no light, no music, no air circulation—you should feel it and fix it. Ask yourself what’s wrong with this environment? How can it be better? 4. Conduct a Great Meeting Details and Disruptions—Are there details happening during the meeting that need to be covered? How can we minimize disruptions? Materials—Hand out materials only when you are ready to go through it. This way people follow you through the meeting rather than reading ahead. Thanks—Thank people. Always thank great people for giving their time and sacrificing from their day to be a part of your meeting. Prayer and Time—Always start and end with prayer. Always be as concise as possible. Always be conscious of time. Lead—Look at people and speak up. Lift your head and project your voice. Speak as a Leader—Speak with clarity. Enunciate and project without mumbling. Even if you have a sound system, speak up with clarity and project your voice beyond yourself. Smile—if you look stoic the meeting will be stoic. Passion—If you care about the cause, then your leadership vision and energy will communicate that. Know Your Stuff—if you have to wonder what you are supposed to say, you didn’t prepare. Prepare Your Words—always have an agenda, list, etc, of things you need to cover. 5. Follow Up a Great Meeting Greet People—shake hands and thank people for coming. Clean Up—think through the clean up and tear down. The space should be left ready for the next meeting. Put Away—all equipment, etc. should be put back away. Thank People—write thank you notes to those who helped and those who attended. Think Follow Up—what response have you asked for? What calls need to be made? How will you communicate with people who weren’t there? Tickler File—after the meeting, make a list of improvements that you want to see happen next time. Make a file of all the things that went well, things that need to change, and store it in a place where you can recall it when you need to. Additional Questions to Consider: —Do we need greeters, ushers, smiling people to welcome people as they arrive? —Can we assemble packets to hand out rather than leave things to be picked up? —Can we personalize anything? Name tags? Names on folders? —Can we decorate? Balloons? Banners? Color? —Can we use a projector/slides?/title slide? (Always do this if possible.) —Can we serve light refreshments?—cookies and lemonade or coffee are easy and always a win! In Conclusion: How can you make your ministry meetings great again? If we would apply this list, every church service, every class, and every staff meeting would take a big step forward in effectiveness. May I implore you to not be content “doing ministry poorly.” May we forever say goodbye to “poor planning” “last minute thinking” and to our “tolerance of mediocrity.” It doesn’t take money or expensive resources to be well prepared, create a clean environment, and host an engaging, meaningful meeting. Start where you are, with what you have, and do your very best with what God has given to you. He honors faithful stewardship. If we aren’t doing our best with the little that we have, why should we ever expect God to give increase? What meetings will you be leading this week? How can this list help you make that meeting better? Should you have a staff meeting with your paid or volunteer teams and talk through this list? I hope this checklist will help you and your team to make those meetings better. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31) View the full article
  13. Atheist Activist Group Objects to Public School Visits to Ken Ham’s Creation Museum By Heather Clark Christian News Network MADISON, Wisc. — A professing atheist activist organization is expressing its objection to three public schools that either have already or plan to visit Ken Ham’s Creation Museum in Kentucky. The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) recently sent letters to officials with Brookville High School in Dayton, Ohio, […] The post Atheist Activist Group Objects to Public School Visits to Ken Ham’s Creation Museum appeared first on . View the full article
  14. God Is Love

    “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love.” (1 John 4:16) It is said that the most quoted verse in all the Bible is the passage in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Surely that is a magnificent testimo... More... View the full article
  15. IMPORTANT NOTE: New Shopping Cart Platform for Lighthouse Trails And Instructions on Changes to Logging In Dear Lighthouse Trails reader, For over 13 years, Lighthouse Trails has used an online-store shopping-cart platform called Miva Merchant. It worked very well for us and was quite affordable. However, over the years, Miva began increasing their prices more and more. Then about a month ago, while we were making plans to renew our yearly […] The post IMPORTANT NOTE: New Shopping Cart Platform for Lighthouse Trails And Instructions on Changes to Logging In appeared first on . View the full article