Archives For christian growth

Top Books Read in 2017

November 24, 2017

Below is a list of the top books I have read in 2017. I’d recommend these as gift ideas or for your own personal growth.

Growing Young: Six Essential Strategies to Help Young People Discover and Love Your Church

This is the best leadership book I have read in some time. Fuller Seminary studies growing churches and how to keep young people in church. Their insights are very timely for the missions organization I previously served with and the church I now work with.

 

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself

If you are a leader who takes missions teams or sends them from your church, this is a must read. This book gave me words to articulate my strategy as a missions pastor following 25 years of missionary service.

 

We are living in the most connected time in history. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Skype, Facetime……

Why is it we have an epidemic of loneliness coupled with a lack of vulnerability?

Depression, anxiety and stress are at all time highs.

We are desperate to be known, yet terrified of being discovered.

We are able to create a public face to be anyone we want to be.

This face is merely a cover story, not reality.

Loneliness, Isolation and Self-Pity are our companions.

We are not alone in this…and not without some Biblical insight.

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah has the classic confrontation with the prophets of Baal. He challenges them to call down fire from heaven from their gods of wood and stone. When it is Elijah’s turn, he soaks his offering with barrels and barrels of precious water during a drought. God answers with fire from heaven, consuming the water and the sacrifice.

Grace When You Disagree

February 20, 2017

It seems there are more opportunities for division and disagreement right now than ever.

Many world events have caused Christians to take opposite sides on issues.

The recent election in the USA
The worldwide issues with refugees and immigrants
A global fear of the foreigner.

There are those embracing terms like evangelical and inclusive, while at the same time others are fleeing them.

Economic Disparity
Racism
Moral debates

Being unified as a church is harder than ever.

The apostle Paul had some experience in these areas.

He needed to bring together the arch enemies of the Jews and the Gentiles in the church of Rome. This required dealing with moral and cultural issues.

The church in Corinth was divided over spiritual gifts, freedom in Christ, and lawsuits to name a few.

I think I have heard people encouraged to follow their heart more in the last few months than ever.

The message seems to come in many forms, some wrapped in Christian packaging.

At times the pursuit of our desires leads to something as harmless as a career change or a new hobby.

Other applications of it have ruined marriages and led to a slew of broken commitments and promises.

There are many Facebook quotes weaving this new-found “theology” with Christian lingo.

“Stop worrying about being good, be free.”
and
“Trust yourself to set your own moral compass.” they say.

These quotes are shared and liked hundreds and thousands of times…by Christians!

This should scare us.

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Following your heart sounds nice but has several false foundations it is built on

The number one objection to grace says if you give people a big grace they will do whatever they want.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer in The Cost of Discipleship famously called this cheap grace.

I do not believe any grace is cheap since it cost Jesus everything.

I would rather argue the cheapening of grace comes not in it’s cost, but in our response to the gift we have been given. After all, Bonhoeffer and anyone speaking against a cheap grace is not referring to the price Jesus paid.

They are speaking of our response having received this amazing grace.

We don’t want people to think they can do whatever they want without consequence.

Grace is never without consequence.

Paul addressed this in Romans 6:1-2. After proclaiming an enormous grace, he knew the natural tendency of people to see what they can get away with.