RSS Robot

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RSS Robot last won the day on July 14 2016

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  1. “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9) As we see in our text, the Holy Spirit indwells every one who is a true believer, a child of God. Each believer is born again through “the engrafted word, which is able to save your soul... More... View the full article
  2. Today, it is the 2017 Holocaust Memorial/Remembrance Day, and around the world people will be stopping to remember the atrocities committed against six million Jews and around five million others, murdered because of the madness of one man – Adolph Hitler. For those of you who follow the writings of Lighthouse Trails, you know we hold […] View the full article
  3. I recently came across a powerful quote from an 18th century English pastor named Job Orton. Ironically, he wrote to the ministers of his day about doctrinal compromise. The struggles of churches nearly 300 years ago are the struggles of churches today. Read what he says: “I have long since found (and every year that I live increases my conviction of it), that when ministers entertain their people with lively and pretty things, confine themselves to general harangues, insist principally on moral duties, without enforcing them warmly and affectionately by evangelical motives; while they neglect the peculiars of the gospel, never or seldom display the grace of God, and the love of Christ in our redemption; the necessity of regeneration and sanctification by a constant dependence on the Holy Spirit of God for assistance and strength in the duties of the Christian life, their congregations are in a wretched state; some are dwindling to nothing, as is the case with several in this neighbourhood, where there are now not as many scores as there were hundreds in their meeting-places, fifty years ago. . . . There is a fatal deadness spread over the congregation. They run in ‘the course of this world,’ follow every fashionable folly, and family and personal godliness seems in general to be lost among them. There is scarcely any appearance of life and zeal.” It seems that Satan was neutralizing local churches three hundred years ago in the same way he is today. Notice the ways churches decline, according to Orton: 1. Create an Entertainment-Driven Ministry—Orton writes, “…when ministers entertain their people with lively and pretty things….” I’ve seen two extremes in entertainment-driven ministry. Both are simply different manifestations of the same false assumptions and bad values. The first bad model I saw was a contest-driven, circus-style, promotion-based ministry model. It was a model that bribed people to attend church, entertained them once they came, and attempted to “sneak up” on them with the gospel. It worked to get people to church, but it was weak in producing devoted disciples and rooted believers. The second bad model I’ve seen is a entertainment-style, party-atmosphere ministry complete with loud rock music, smoke machines, laser lights, and a lot of entertainment. Again, it works to get people to attend, but it lulls them into non-participation, non-worship, and lethargic, carnal Christianity. Both models fail because of two false assumptions. The first false assumption is that Jesus and His Word are boring and unattractive. The second false assumption is that people won’t respond to simple, biblical love and grace. These methods attempt to DISGUISE the gospel to “make it attractive.” The false assumption being, it’s not attractive unless we disguise it! This is really bad theology! Entertainment-driven ministry is a broken road. 2. Focus on “General Harangues”—Orton mentions leaders who “confine themselves to general harangues.” This is a church-family focused on issue debate (doubtful disputation as Romans 14 calls them) and theological inspection over Spirit-led obedience and unified practice. The Word of God is like a window, and some people prefer to spend more time looking at the window rather than looking through the window. Paul wrote to Titus, “But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.” (Titus 3:9) An honest Bible student is comfortable accepting God’s Word where it is clear, and where it is unclear. An unhealthy church is content to “look at the window”—to inspect and debate foolish questions that generate strife and contention. A healthy church is content to practice what is clear in God’s Word. Unbelievers rarely come to these churches, and when they do, they rarely come back. Focusing on pointless debates, personal disputes, petty divisive issues, and biblical conjecture is a broken road. 3. Teach Behaviorism Absent Love and Worship—Orton writes, “…insist principally on moral duties, without enforcing them warmly and affectionately by evangelical motives…”—external duty without internal love as a motive. External conformity or performance-based acceptance generates a church family that looks good, but that is not motivated by true love and worship of Jesus. Enough badgering from the pulpit will manipulate many Christians into a manmade mold. But eventually those same Christians become disillusioned and hurt by man-centered leadership tactics. The only biblical, viable, sustainable motivation for doing anything as a Christian is the pure love of Jesus Christ. Being pushed into a set of standards, a weekly structure, or an outward appearance always leads to resentment of those who pushed or manipulated me. That Christianity eventually falls apart. Being led by the Spirit and motivated by love will produce a pure hearted, sustainable, joyful, non-oppressive Christian walk. 4. Neglect the Pure Gospel—Orton writes, “…while they neglect the peculiars of the gospel….” The gospel of Jesus Christ is not only how we are saved, it is also how we grow, how we live, how we endure, and how we enjoy our walk with Jesus. The more you study and examine the gospel, the bigger it becomes. It’s inexhaustible. Healthy churches always keep the gospel front and center. Their message is hopeful. They magnify Jesus. They preach Christ crucified. They reveal Jesus to be more than a free ticket to Heaven, but in truth a Saviour in every aspect of life. If a church family KNOWS their unsaved guest will hear the gospel, and not just a “general harangue” on Sunday morning—they are EAGER, EXCITED, and HAPPY to invite their lost friends and family. Something tells me, that’s exactly what happened in the books of Acts! 5. Neglect the Display of Love and Grace—Again Orton says, “…never or seldom display the grace of God, and the love of Christ in our redemption….” How do we miss this? How do churches become so “ungracious” and “unloving”? How do churches melt down into factious, divisive communities of self-focus? How do they become so inward and unwelcoming? They lost sight of the massive volume of New Testament teaching on love, unity, forgiveness, forbearance, and grace toward others. If you’re gospel message is clear, but your dispositional display of the gospel is carnal, you are doing the gospel a grave disservice. Churches die because love and grace died in their midst. Ever more, in a darkened, hopeless secular America, a loving church stands in huge contrast to anything else in culture. 6. Neglect a Strong Emphasis on Dependence upon the Holy Spirit—Orton goes on, “…the necessity of regeneration and sanctification by a constant dependence on the Holy Spirit of God for assistance and strength in the duties of the Christian life….” Dying churches, somewhere along the way, began to subtly and perhaps imperceptibly quench, grieve, or usurp the Holy Spirit of God. They took matters into their own hands. How often a pastor is tempted to usurp the work of God’s Spirit—we all want our church family to manifest spiritual maturity, so we attempt to manufacture a quick conformity to outward appearances, rather than patiently allowing God’s Spirit to cultivate an internal, organic growth. It’s easy to set up outward, measurable standards of appearance and performance. We like to do this because it validates us, makes us feel successful as Christians and leaders. Yet the outward conformity could be merely a cover for the absence of inward dependence. Healthy churches emphasize the gradual, growing work of God’s Spirit within the believer, over the work of quick, manmade, external conformity. Orton describes these six things as a “fatal deadness” that spreads over the entire congregation. I think he was hitting the target—for the 1700s and for today! The local church of Jesus Christ is designed to flourish with life, health, and joy. While dying or dead churches are a dime a dozen, may God stir up a new generation of churches that defy death and embrace the life and health that only His grace and His Spirit can produce! View the full article
  4. “Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.” (Psalm 111:1) The first phrase of this majestic psalm of praise, “praise ye the LORD,” translates the compound Hebrew word hallelujah. The psalm in its entirety boasts about the works of the Lo... More... View the full article
  5. “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9) The term “Godhead” occurs three times in the King James translation. Each time it translates a slightly different Greek noun, all being slight modifications of the Greek word for “God” (theos, from which we derive such English words as “theology... More... View the full article
  6. “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (John 15:11) The word “fun” is never mentioned in the Bible, and “entertain” is used only in reference to being hospitable. Such activities as “reveling” and “playing” receive nothing except condemnation in the Sc... More... View the full article
  7. By Lois Putnam On a recent Sunday morning a vivacious older lady stood in front of a congregation, of what can only be termed a solid gospel preaching, mission minded church, and announced to the women that all should sign up for its newest Bible study program that would begin shortly. Touting both Set Apart, and Living a […] View the full article
  8. LTRP Note: One of our readers sent us this article today. We have posted it for informational and research purposes only and not as an endorsement. By Katherine Burgess The Wichita Eagle People at Wichita Oasis start showing up at around 10 on Sunday morning, drinking coffee and chatting before the music begins. Once children are safely […] View the full article
  9. Friday Church News Notes FALLING IN LOVE WITH A FANTASY CHARACTER (Friday Church News Notes, April 21, 2017, www.wayoflife.org, fbns@wayoflife.org, 866-295-4143) - In this age of fantasy multitudes of people live in a mythical world. Of course, this began in ancient Babel, but modern technology has taken everything to a new level. Consider the Japanese anime dating simulation video games that have captivated the hearts of multitudes of young men. The fantasy games “allow users to engage with anime characters in dating and sexual encounters” (“Japanese video game maker,” UPI, Apr. 15, 2017). The most popular is Niitzuma Lovely xCation (Niitzuma means “new wife”), and for the rollout of the 2017 edition, a select number of users will be invited to participate in... Read More View the full article
  10. “And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17) Ten lepers, hopeless and incurable, came to Jesus, begging for His help, and He miraculously healed them. All 10 should have fallen down to worship and thank Him, but only one praised God and thanked Him for His marvelous deliverance. We are at first amazed at ... More... View the full article
  11. When you host a special day or event as a church—such as for Resurrection Sunday or a graduation or conference—it is tempting to finish the event and then kick into low gear. Or, if you are Type A like me, finish the event and quickly move on to the next! We have learned however, that it is helpful to pause for debriefing and to be sure we have thoroughly tied up loose ends before calling the event finished. I suggest five questions as helpful starting points. The first four are ones that we ask in a team pastoral staff or leadership meeting. The last is one only you can answer. 1. What went well? Obviously, this is a good time to give God thanks for the results—souls saved, lives changed, teens reached, etc. But go even a step further and ask, “What did we do that we should continue doing?” Perhaps it was a greeter training meeting that you need to note should be repeated every year. Maybe a sound check timing that was good. Maybe having supplies for altar workers in a certain place. Take a few moments to evaluate, not only the results, but elements of the process that you want to be sure to use again. 2. What could be improved or eliminated? This is where we address space issues, supply shortages, music we did not feel worked, technical support, and any other details we noticed along the way could be improved or eliminated. Often during an event, you will notice answers to this question. But if you don’t pause afterward to specifically take note and file your notes for the next time, you are likely to repeat the same mistakes. 3. How should we follow up? An outreach event is never complete until the follow up is stewarded. As a pastor, I track this follow up very carefully, receiving a report each Friday that includes who has been followed up on, by whom, and what the response was—as well as who has not yet been followed up on. Sometimes event follow up also includes clean up, repairs, or planning time in the future to address specific areas that need improvement. It is time-activating anything that came up in the question, “What can we improve?” 4. Who can I thank and how? Any large event that goes well has had many people—often volunteers—invest into it. Take time to think through who has selflessly gone the second (and third and forth) miles, and express your gratitude to them. It may be as simple as a note. It may be accompanied with a gift card. When possible, I like to encourage a staff leader who invested weeks of his life into an event to take a paid day or two off. Don’t “move on” without thanking those who freely gave themselves to labor alongside you. They did it for God’s glory, but hearing “thank you” is encouraging. 5. Have I scheduled rest/family time? Heading into a large event, I usually plan that I am going to be “off balance” for several days. For the weeks leading into Resurrection Sunday, for instance, I focus on soulwinning several times through the week. Before Spiritual Leadership Conference, I spend full weeks preparing my sermon and session outlines. For the sake of my family (and, as I’ve been learning in the past few years, my health), I must plan some time to recoup and invest in them after these crazy busy weeks. It may be as simple as a day with the grandkids at a theme park, or it may be blocking off a few days to spend with Terrie, read, and reset my batteries. Ultimately, any successful results we see in a ministry event are by the power of the Holy Spirit. And yet, we know He uses our efforts—which is why we invest so much effort into these kinds of events. I don’t want to drift from one event to the next just “doing my best” when I could learn from each event and, in the future, give purposed energy and follow up to the work that God is doing. Related posts: 7 Practices to Build into Your Annual Calendar Cultivating Joy, Growth, and a Passion for Excellence in Your Staff 10 Diagnostic Questions to Assess Balance and Sustainability, part 1 View the full article
  12. LTRP Note: As we approach this year’s Holocaust Memorial Day (April 24th) and in view of a recent article we posted where we referred to God’s view of Israel, we are reposting Mike Oppenheimer’s article/booklet titled Israel: Replacing What God Has Not, which we originally released four years ago. And if you have never watched Caryl Productions documentary […] View the full article
  13. Old Baptist Churches Were Discipling Churches Beginning in the 16th century, Baptist churches multiplied greatly, and they were discipling churches. They renounced infant baptism, requiring a regenerate church membership and exercising strict discipline. Baptist churches practiced church discipline for centuries. In the book Corrective Church Discipline: with a Development of the Principles Upon Which It Is Based (1860), Patrick Hughes Mell, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, stated, “The views which are presented in the... Read More View the full article
  14. “If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.” (Colossians 1:23) Many times Christians piously say, “Why get worked up over creation, why don’t you just preach the gospel?&r... More... View the full article
  15. Training for Song Leaders The position of song leader is important. Just as orchestras need good conductors and armies need good officers, churches must have the right song leaders if they are to have effectual song services. An individual can worship God alone effectively if he is so inclined, but a congregation must be led. That is why God has ordained leaders and has set forth high qualifications for them. It is true that the New Testament does not spell out the position of song leader or music director, but the Old Testament plainly sets forth this pattern and there is no need to restate it in the New. God tells us that the Old Testament is for our example today (Romans 15:4). The song services are too important to be given into the hands of just... Read More View the full article