Sabtu, 22 Oktober 2016

God Used My Daughter to Save Me From Drug Addiction

Brian ‘Head’ Welch: God Used My Daughter to Save Me From Drug Addiction

Brian “Head” Welch is best known to the world as guitarist and co-founder of the heavy metal band, Korn. However, after a crippling battle with meth addiction, Welch has since become a Christian. In a video interview with I Am Second, Welch retells the harrowing experience of how he came to faith and how God used his daughter, Jennea, to help save him.
Welch describes two positive feelings he experienced before he came to Christ: the high of performing in front of thousands of people who loved his music and the “euphoric feeling” he had when his daughter was born.
When he was performing for Korn and seeing all those people respond to the music, he says it puffs you up inside and makes you feel like “I’m important.” He describes the experience as people worshipping him. It’s apparent the birth of his daughter had a huge impact on him, but even this experience in and of itself didn’t have the power to change him. “I just felt so much love just fill my emotions and I thought I was going to be happy, but I couldn’t stay sober. I just didn’t know how,” Welch recalls.
Welch explains he never wanted to dabble with meth in the first place, after witnessing how it stole his ex-wife’s life. He says he despised his ex wife and the mother of his child for choosing drugs over her kid, but then eventually ended up stumbling down the same path she did.
One day his real estate broker told Welch, “I felt this Scripture jump out at me. I’ve never done this before…but I felt like this would mean something to you.” The Scripture his real estate broker got was Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” For some reason, this word from his broker prompted Welch to accept an invitation to go to church.
Welch recalls accepting Jesus at the church service, yet going home to do drugs. This time, though, when he looked at his daughter, he knew something was different. He remembers the prayer he prayed to Jesus that day: “You know I want to quit. You know I want to be a good Dad for this kid. She lost her mother to drugs and she’s going to lose me if I don’t quit.” He asked Jesus to take the drugs away from him.
After praying, Welch says “I felt so much fatherly love from heaven, and it was like ‘I don’t condemn you. I love you. I love you.’”
“Instantly, that love from God came into me. It was so powerful that the next day I threw away all my drugs and I quit Korn,” Welch recalls. He experienced the love of God coming into him and then out to his daughter. All of a sudden, he had the desire to raise her properly. Later, Welch would come to realize “God used her to save me to save her later on.”
Besides the overwhelming love of God the Father Welch so candidly expresses, he also has shares a significant revelation about fulfillment. His explains that through becoming famous with Korn, his dreams came true more than he could ever imagine—money, houses, cars, sex, drugs, anything he wanted to try to find pleasure. But when Christ came in, Welch says he was given the gift of understanding life, which he now understands as, “everything was created for Christ, and by him, and we’re created to be with him. And it’s the most incredible feeling because you’re where you belong.”
Welch says, “The question about life is answered.”

Rabu, 19 Oktober 2016

The Secret to Getting Nonbelievers to Check Out Your Church

The Secret to Getting Nonbelievers to Check Out Your Church

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“It’s not about compromising your doctrine—it’s about the church being at the heart of transforming your community.”
LifeWay Research recently polled thousands of nonbelievers about what it would take to get them inside a church. When I thought about it, the results made perfect sense, but most church leaders never consider these possibilities.
Focused on Americans who do not attend church, here’s what they said would draw them into one:
62 percent – a meeting about neighborhood safety
51 percent – a community service event
46 percent – a sports or exercise program
45 percent – a concert
45 percent – a neighborhood get together
35 percent – a worship service
Notice that only 35 percent of nonbelievers responded with a worship service. Pastor Tony Miller at The Gate Church in Oklahoma City was already thinking this way. Because of his personal passion for unity, and as a result of the recent racial issues in cities across the country, Tony held a “Forum for Transformative Cultural Reform” at his church. He invited local politicians, the police chief, the superintendent of schools, an imam from a local mosque, a Jewish rabbi, the president of the local NAACP, the executive director of Black Lives Matter, the vice present in charge of diversity at the university, a local court judge and others.
The event drew more than 700 people—many who had never visited a church before. It was a remarkable event that positioned The Gate Church in the center of the effort to bring unity in the city. Afterward, he received an email that said: “Thank you for hosting last night’s forum. It was an incredible start to the healing and transformation of our city.”
Another attendee remarked about pastor Tony: “I’m going to have to bring my wife over hear to hear this man. I really like him. He’s got an incredible perspective and heart. He’s one of the few people I deal with that ‘gets it.’”
Another said: “I’m coming back one Sunday.”
Tony reported to me that the state senator wanted to follow up with him, and he had already scheduled a lunch meeting with the local imam.
The event accomplished multiple results:
• It helped move forward the conversation about racial unity in the city.
• It brought people together who might never have met otherwise.
• It exposed more than 700 local citizens to an important mission of the church.
• It created a comfortable “first” experience for hundreds of people who have never walked in the door of a church.
Perhaps an important way to grow your church is to become a platform in the community for issues that matter to those who would never otherwise visit. It’s not about compromising your doctrine—it’s about the church being at the heart of transforming your community.
I’d love to hear about the results of similar events at churches across the country. Any reports?
Phil Cooke is an internationally known writer and speaker. Through his company Cooke Pictures in Burbank, California, he’s helped some of the largest nonprofit organizations and leaders in the world use media to tell their story. This article was originally published on Cooke’s blog at

Authentic Gospel: Sandals Church

Authentic Gospel: Sandals Church

No. 45 Fastest-Growing: The Leaders and Members at Sandals Church in California Share the Gospel With Authenticity
When Matt Brown was growing up, church was the one place where he felt like he couldn’t be authentic.
“There was a difference between whom I portrayed in church on Sundays, and who I really was and what was really going on,” he says.
Now, as founding and lead pastor of Sandals Church in Riverside, California, Brown has made authenticity a priority. He not only shares his personal shortcomings and triumphs but encourages his congregation to do so, as well.
“They have to be real with themselves and other people,” Brown says. “It needs to be a place where they can be who they really are. And that’s ultimately what God wants.”
Brown says that challenging churchgoers to be authentic has drawn people to Sandals. This includes a couple he befriended whose marriage was falling apart. They were ready to divorce but visited Sandals and became Christians.
“Their whole life is changed,” Brown says, “because of this … idea of forgiveness and grace, and they were able to receive that from God and ultimately give it to each other.”
The authentic feel of Sandals also appealed to Dan Zimbardi, who began attending the church 12 years ago by pure happenstance. He and his wife were always late to another church service and decided to give Sandals a try because it started later, and they knew they could make it on time. He’d heard “wild people” with tattoos attended the church and didn’t know what to expect.
“Within the first few minutes, it felt like I’d found the church for me,” Zimbardi says. “I was so drawn in by this vision of authenticity we were really desperate for in our lives and in our marriage.”
Zimbardi worked in the corporate world and began routinely volunteering at Sandals. He helped the church set up before services and break down the room afterward. He served as a small-group leader and before long decided to become a licensed pastor. That opened the door for him to become an executive pastor at Sandals, a role he’s had for nearly five years. He’s overseen small-group leaders and men’s leaders alike and calls joining the staff one of his best life decisions.
While most volunteers don’t join the pastoral team, Brown says that Sandals invites churchgoers to give their feedback to church staff. “Not just about negative things, but about positive things,” Brown says.
Located in Southern California, Sandals also stands out because of its racial diversity. People from a wide range of ethnic groups gather together for worship.
“I might shake someone’s hand from Pakistan, somebody’s hand from Africa,” Brown says. “I’ll meet somebody from Mexico or somebody from a South American country, Japan, China, all over the world and back.”
The community is also home to several universities, such as the University of California at Riverside, which means there is no shortage of students in the area.
While its location gives Sandals some advantages, Brown says there’s also a downside. Riverside is an hour away from the beach, the mountains and the desert. Accordingly, some people would rather be outdoors than in a church building.
Sandals manages to compete with it surroundings because the leaders are not only passionate but also desperate to share the gospel. Brown summed up the three factors driving the church’s growth.
“I think the vision, a spirit of desperation and thirdly a willingness to be flexible,” he says. “We’re willing to try anything that’s difficult.”
Read more Outreach 100 fastest-growing church profiles »
Riverside, California
Founding and Lead Pastor: Matt Brown
Twitter: @PastorMattBrown, @SandalsChurch
Facebook: /SandalsChurch
Founded: 1997
Affiliation: Southern Baptist
Locations: 3
Attendance: 6,333
Growth in 2015: +868 (16%)
Fastest-Growing: 45
Largest: 83

10 Poisons That Will Kill Any Church

10 Poisons That Will Kill Any Church

10 Poisons That Will Kill Any Church
“We live in a time when churches need revitalization and renewal.”
I read recently that thousands of churches close their doors every year. Who knows how many others are on life support? We live in a time when churches need revitalization and renewal. The eternal destiny of people depend on the faithful witness of local churches.
As I think about churches dying, I’m reminded there are certain poisons that are causes of death. I call them poisons because they are deadly, but they are avoidable. The churches that die from them do so by their own hand.
Here are 10 poisons that will kill any church.
Performance without participation
Like concerts, movies and athletic events, much of our worship has become spectator-oriented. A handful of well-trained (perhaps paid) musicians perform for the masses. Too often, we enjoy entertainment without experiencing engagement.
Information without inspiration
With advancement in technology and a multitude of media sources, we are drowning in information. Clearly, this phenomenon has spilled over into the church. Sermons, conferences, seminars and Bibles studies are good, but some have sat and soaked so long that they’ve soured.
Mirrors without windows
Too many churches stare at themselves in the mirror, primping and preparing for the home town fans. Instead, we should be peering out windows, looking for local needs and global opportunities.
Attachment without commitment
Those who used to attend two or three times a month are now coming once or twice. Most people I run across claim an affiliation with a congregation, yet too many lack affection for its mission. They want to be included on the roll without taking a role.
Ritual without spontaneity
When a young man was asked why he didn’t go to church, he replied, “I’ve been.” Church services are too often boring, irrelevant and predictable. We speak a different language on Sunday than the rest of the week. We’re saying the same things, singing the same songs and voicing the same prayers.
Prosperity without generosity
Most congregants are employed and making decent money, yet this good fortune isn’t spilling over into the offering plate. Tithers are dying and tippers are taking their place. “Donations are on course to drop by 70 percent within 25 to 30 years—due to the deaths of the most generous generations,” says John Dickerson in The Great Evangelical Recession.                       
Addition without reproduction
Much of what we call church growth is actually sheep swapping. We play musical pews, as Christians hop from church to church. Some churches may be adding to their membership, yet how many of these constitute a net gain for the Kingdom?
Birth without growth
It’s wonderful when the nursery is full of newborns, yet not so good when they make up a sizable portion of the congregation each Sunday. If your first grade child or grandchild made an A on a test of one-digit addition and subtraction problems, you’d beam with pride. However, would you feel the same way if your high school calculus student aced that same set of problems?
Membership without conversion
According to Christian author and researcher George Barna “half of all adults who attend Protestant churches on a typical Sunday morning are not Christian.” Having spent 14 years as an unsaved church member, I’m especially sensitive to this sad situation. A name on the church roll doesn’t forward to the Lamb’s book of life.
Duty without love
Too many 21st-century congregations are modeling the first-century church at Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7). Calendars are full but hearts are empty. Love for Jesus, fellow saints and one another is growing cold in these later days (Matthew 24:12).
I wish I had simple solutions to these critical issues. It’ll take widespread revival to reverse these trends. In the meantime, while we pray for and anticipate such a move from God, we can strive to make sure the people we shepherd and churches we serve buck the trend.
Are there other poisons you’ve seen kill churches? If so, mention them in the comments.

Why Won’t God End My Suffering?

Why Won’t God End My Suffering?

Why Won’t God End My Suffering?
“God is good, not cruel.”
I don’t remember the day I was diagnosed with a physical disability. I was only three years old. Disability is something that has always been a part of my life, and it probably always will.
Growing up, there was no doubt in my mind God created me the way he had for a reason. This disability would be present in my life for as long as he had chosen, to fulfill his mysterious but good purposes.
Still, as I’ve grown up, I also have come to see that sickness is not what God originally intended for our bodies. Sickness is confined to this sinful world where we live for a brief time. Suffering is a sign that we’re broken, and in need of a Savior. It also points to God’s power and sovereignty. I know God can heal people, but I also know he may choose not to, for our good.
Those two things can be difficult to reconcile. If God can end our suffering on earth, why doesn’t he? Why does he allow sickness to afflict us if sickness is not what he ultimately and eternally wants for us?
There are no easy answers. But it is OK, even good, to wrestle with questions like these. The grieving and wrestling brings us back to precious truths for the suffering.

God Is Good, Not Cruel

When I see circumstances of suffering in my own life or in the lives of others, my mind immediately turns to why questions. God declares that he works all things together for the good of those who love him, “those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).
But how are we supposed to interpret suffering as something good? It seems unfair that he would prolong our pain, allowing it to rob some of the quality or length of our life.
God does desire for our bodies to be whole one day. He also desires for our hearts to be drawn to him with a profound understanding of his grace and love.
C.S. Lewis summarized it well in The Problem of Pain: “On the one hand, if God is wiser than we, his judgement must differ from ours on many things, and not least on good and evil. What seems to us good may therefore not be good in his eyes, and what seems to us evil may not be evil.”
When it does seem as if God is withholding healing from us, it is not because he is cruel. Our understanding is limited, and we will never fully see things from his perspective. We may have trouble comprehending how God can use suffering for good, but we also do not have the wisdom or authority to say it cannot be true.

Desiring Healing and Embracing Suffering

When suffering enters our lives, we often feel like there are only two choices: 1) accept our circumstances will never improve, or 2) constantly wish for something to change.
But we are not limited to those choices. God has given us a unique freedom through Christ that enables us to simultaneously hope for future healing and restoration, while also embracing peace in the midst of our suffering today. This freedom allows us to engage our doubts and questions, and still cultivate the contentment to which we’ve been called. It shows us that struggling does not prove our lack of faith; it strengthens our faith as we look to God’s word for answers and apply the hope of his promises to our immediate and difficult circumstances.
It is OK to want things to be different. When we bring our requests before God, we have the opportunity to model the example Christ himself gave us in his prayer before the crucifixion (Luke 22:42). He exemplified both a genuine hope for something different as well as an acceptance of God-ordained suffering.
Jesus did not hesitate to ask the Father for another way to accomplish his plan, but his requests were ultimately presented with a heart of surrender.

Everything We Need

Feelings of insufficiency and envy are some of the hardest to fight in the midst of suffering, walking through all the overwhelming questions. But in humility, and carried along by grace, we wrestle both to rejoice with others in their healing and to walk alongside others through their pain, knowing our suffering cannot and should not be compared.
We need to remember that God’s care for us is deep, and he will always provide everything we need. He already has.
Perfect health is something I have never known in this life. But if I don’t have it, I do not need it to accomplish what God has planned for me. He didn’t make a mistake when he made me. Nothing in my life has ever happened outside of his will. My physical limitations do not disqualify me from the tasks that have been and will be assigned to me. In fact, I believe they have strangely and beautifully prepared me for those tasks. The circumstances and inconveniences have been given to me, and I trust they are part of God providing what I need for his calling on my life.
Healing in this life may come. Or we may be called to a deeper and more rewarding journey of faith through our suffering. There’s no denying that the road is hard, but God is here to walk beside us and remind us that he is working in all our circumstances.
Eventually our suffering will come to an end. If we are in Christ, it is only temporary. On that day, when faith becomes sight, we will experience glory that will not be worth comparing to every hard thing we have experienced on this earth.
MaryLynn Johnson

MaryLynn Johnson

MaryLynn Johnson (@MaryLynnJohnson) is a writer and blogger with a heart for ministry and using words to encourage others. Keep up with her at Letting Go of Why.

What REALLY Changes the World

What REALLY Changes the World

What REALLY Changes the World
It is not a meme, lyric or anything else that will change hearts.
If we believe a Gospel of words will change our culture, we are misguided. It is a Gospel of power that changes lives. Lives changed by the power of God, in turn, create a culture that has the power to change culture.
Words convey powerful ideas, but no meme, post, lyric or teaching will change a destiny. It is the Spirit’s power working through words, or perhaps more accurately, words formed by and articulating the leading Gospel of power, that will bring transformation.
God’s power is most profoundly expressed through His all-surpassing Love. Every sign and wonder God gives, every renewing experience of grace and forgiveness, is powered by God’s heart for humankind.
If we want a Gospel of power, we must first welcome the Gospel of Love to overtake our own hearts. Having tasted the healing and restoring gift of God’s Love, we are then empowered to embody that same Love to the world around us.
In this we see that power only finds its healthy foundation in Love. Power, uprooted from a loved heart that loves in return, will corrupt everything it touches—including the one that holds it.
A Gospel of power, motivated by love and flowing from loved hearts, will manifest itself in miracles that change the heart, heal the body, restore the mind, free the emotions and alter the systems of this world.
It is a Gospel of power, rooted and established in a Jesus-vision of Love, that will change the world.
This article originally appeared here.
Dan Wilt

Dan Wilt

Dan Wilt, M.Min. is an artist, author, musician, educator, songwriter, communicator, and spiritual life writer. With 20+ years in the Vineyard family of churches, he serves in various ways to further a “New Creation” centered vision of the Christian life through media.

The Four Keys to Creating Great Relationships

The Four Keys to Creating Great Relationships

The Four Keys to Creating Great Relationships
“Loving people well means going out of our way to let them know it.”
Marriage and fatherhood have both taught me a lot about the importance building great relationships, and what it truly means to establish ones that thrive rather than run dry and fade away. I want my family to create meaningful relationships with people that will stand the test of time, not crumble during times of pain and uncertainty. Throughout the Bible, we see Jesus cultivating relationships with all different types of people from all different types of backgrounds. He did this by doing four key things: listening well, loving well, serving well and forgiving well. Jesus is the ultimate example of a great relationship maker, and I think applying these four keys will help you establish long-lasting connections.

1. Listen Well

Anyone who has been married for any amount of time will tell you that there is a big difference between hearing someone and listening to them. And even though I’ve been at fault for this more times than I’d love to admit, the difference between the two remains the same. When we listen to someone instead of simply hearing them, we focus our attention on their words, we feel the emotion behind each word, and try to make a connection to the why behind each emotion. Our hearts are focused on the heart of the individual instead of wondering when the conversation will be over.
Whether the relationship is work-related, a family member, a friend or even your significant other, listening well will help any relationship flourish to its potential. Don’t let the distractions around you get in the way of listening to someone sitting right in front of you. You cannot build healthy relationships with half-hearted listening skills. Put down your phone, get off your computer, lower your music and fixate your attention on the importance of listening to the people talking to you. Give them the attention they deserve. Your relationship depends on it.
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to get angry.” —James 1:19

2. Love Well

Love is one of those things everyone talks about, but very few people put into action. When we look at love as it pertains to the Bible, we see that the love of Jesus has no boundaries, is without limitation and is referenced an average of 250 times depending on which version you read. Jesus loved people in a way that was radical and scandalous. The act of love is important because the Bible says it to be so. Loving people well means going out of our way to let them know it, and not withholding love from someone just because we disapprove of their actions or way of life. True love has no limitations, and we must allow this form of love to exude from every part of our existence. Loving well means every part of our life should exude the love of Jesus.
“The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.” —Mark 12:31

3. Serve Well

Service comes in various shapes and forms, but one of the ultimate examples of servanthood was Jesus washing the disciples’ feet in John 13:1-17. Jesus went out of his way to help the disciples, serve them in a time of need, and show them that there was nothing too big or too small that he wouldn’t do for them. In the same way, great relationships thrive when people are continuously trying to out-serve one another.
We serve not to gain recognition, but because Jesus came to serve us first. We’re called to go out of our ways to help people each and every day. This could be something as simple as opening up a door or as monumental as helping someone pay their rent. Regardless, we’re called to serve well. Servanthood and thriving relationships go hand in hand.
“So then, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” —Galatians 6:10

4. Forgive Well

When we forgive people, we’re freeing ourselves just as much as the person we are extending grace to. Forgiveness is a vital part of thriving relationship. There are many people in my life who I have had to forgive regardless if I’ve agreed with their decisions, and I base this forgiveness on the reality that Jesus forgave you and me while we were still sinners. We didn’t deserve it, but it was a gift that has brought our relationship with Jesus to a whole different level. It’s incomparable to anything this world can offer. When we incorporate forgiveness into the forefront of any relationship, we are indefinitely setting up that relationship for success.
Every time we install forgiveness into a relational quarrel or mishap, we help build trust and understanding with each individual at hand. Forgiveness isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it in the long run. Don’t let any relationship fall prey to grudges and resentment.
“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” —Colossians 3:13
Jarrid Wilson

Jarrid Wilson

Jarrid Wilson is a husband, pastor and author relentlessly sharing the love of Jesus.