Selasa, 25 Agustus 2015

10 Things We Say in Church That Don’t Actually Make Sense

10 Things We Say in Church That Don’t Actually Make Sense

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Sometimes Christians say funny things in the church. It’s like we have our own language. And it often sounds creepy to non-church goers. We mean well, but sometimes we say things in church that just don’t make sense. We’ll admit, we’ve said these phrases many times ourselves, but it’s good to stop and really think about what we mean. Here are a few of our favorites with a translation for your convenience.
1. You don’t go to church, you are the church
I am not a building. What we mean by this is we are the body. Okay, that’s weird too. Let me try again. The Church is not a building, the church is a living organism that is Christ’s body. Okay, still not helping here. Maybe we should come back to this one another time. Let’s move on.

2. God blesses us in proportion to our giving
Good people of Oz, this is not true. There is no Yellow Brick Road that swiftly leads us to the Emerald City if we follow all the rules. Yes, God calls us to give and to tithe. And yes, he blesses those who give. But no, your amount of blessing received does not equal what you give. That would be works over faith and would infer that we must earn our salvation when it’s already been given to us.


3. I am so totally “blessed”
This is my biggest pet peeve. And I just used it above! I wrote about it here. If you used the word “blessed” more than four times in the last paragraph you just spoke, you used it three and a half times too many. “Blessed” means to find favor or to have “self-contained happiness.” Greg Laurie writes, “the idea is that our happiness is independent of our circumstances. It is self-contained, meaning that regardless of what is happening to us externally, we can be truly happy internally.” Your new car does not make you holy. Your new baby might – I’ll give you that one. It’s good to be thankful, but when we overuse the word bless, it can make others feel like they’re not as blessed, happy or as fortunate as we are. It can also give material things more power than we intend.

4. The Bible strictly forbids tattoos
Are we going by Leviticus 19:28 for this one? “You shall not make any cuts on your body for the dead or tattoo yourselves: I am the Lord.” If so, the verse just before it says, “You shall not round off the hair on your temples or mar the edges of your beard.” It also mentions only eating what’s kosher. So … bummer for everyone who’s ever had a hair cut or shaved or eaten meat. We’re taking an Old Testament verse out of context just a bit. This passage is dealing with pagan rituals of people living near the Israelites. Also, we’re not under Old Testament law anymore.

5. God helps those who help themselves
Where do we get this saying? I don’t think it’s in the Bible because Jesus said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Lost people don’t typically help themselves. Jesus healed the sick, blind and hurting. Do you remember what he called the people who thought they could help themselves to heaven? White washed tombs. I think I’ll pass on that.

6. God won’t give you more than you can handle
Are we thinking of this verse? “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13). However, this verse is talking about sin and the fact we have a choice – say yes to sin or say no to sin. God gives us a way to turn from sin. This verse isn’t talking about trials and pain and suffering. In fact, right before his death, Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” He promises us trouble and he promises us joy. Relevant wrote a great piece on this here.
7. If you have enough faith, you’ll be healed I’ve known people of great faith who have not been healed. If our healing is contingent on our faith, then our God isn’t big enough. Jesus did heal people because of their faith, but the healing comes from Him, not from our faith. “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
8. Let’s love on people This sounds gross even to me. And I’ve used this phrase! Oh, the shame. Loving on people just means we want to be kind and loving. We’re not weird (mostly), I promise.
9. Doing life together This means we’re fellowshipping together. Oh wait, let me try again. It means we have tight community and can break bread together. Oops, I did it again! It means we want to have friends we can grow with, share with, relate with and have fun with. It’s not as strange as it sounds.
10. I’ll pray about it This is Christian code for “no.” We say this when we don’t know what to say and don’t really want to commit to your thing/event/ministry. We love what you’re doing, but don’t want to hurt your feelings. Let’s just be brave enough to tell people no. Okay? Just pray about it.
Even though we can be a wacky bunch with crazy phrases, God still loves us. Whether you’re a longtime follower of Jesus and you’ve overused these phrases, we’re with you. If you’re a brand new believer figuring it all out, welcome! Have a seat. We’re so glad you’re here. Let’s do life together! Scratch that. Let’s just grab coffee. Tune in next time to hear about the season of life where God told me to ____ because the Bible says so and I know it’s God’s will for me. Kidding!

Esther Laurie is a staff writer at Her background is in communication and church ministry. She believes in the power of the written word and the beauty of transformation and empowering others. When she’s not working, she loves running, exploring new places and time with friends and family. It’s her goal to work the word ‘whimsy’ into most conversations.
More from Esther Laurie or visit Esther at
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There is No Rational Argument for Abortion

Matt Chandler: There is No Rational Argument for Abortion

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In January 2014, Pastor Matt Chandler passionately tackled the issue of abortion and what it does to unborn children. In six minutes, he talks about the functions and abilities of a baby at various stages of gestation. He also makes the point that abortions most often don’t happen because of the life of the mother is endangered or because of the awful circumstances of rape. Instead, “It is purely around convenience. I’m not ready for this. I didn’t ask for this. And so murder happens for convenience.”
The video is going viral on Facebook, most likely spurred by the release of a series of videos from the Center for Medical Progress. These videos highlight Planned Parenthood officials discussing the selling of aborted baby parts and tissue and are at times very disturbing in nature. The videos have become the center of social media conversation, with most pro-life advocates calling for an investigation of the abortion provider. There’s also been an outcry to stop taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood, which the U.S. senate recently voted against.
Carrie Kintz Carrie Kintz is a freelance writer and communication strategist. She works with ministries and individuals across the country, helping them figure out what to say and how to say it in the digital space. Carrie has also spoken at conferences such as Social Ecclessia, Think Digital and the Best of Social Media Summit. When she's not writing (or tweeting), she enjoys hiking, time with friends and a good cup of coffee More from Carrie Kintz or visit Carrie at

3 Things We Can Learn from Christian Hipsters

3 Things We Can Learn from Christian Hipsters

People are talking about hipster Christianity, from NPR to the Washington Post. Hipster Christians like going against the grain a bit – Jesus did too, so what’s the buzz about?
A hipster is someone who enjoys fashion, music, and food that are outside of the cultural mainstream. They not only keep up with social change, but seem to stay ahead of the trend. This includes independent thinking, politics and witty banter according to the Urban Dictionary. Hipsters are typically early-adopters of new music and new culture. Did you just find a band you love? They probably went to the band’s first concert three years ago and are Instagram buddies.
I don’t think anyone really takes issue with the grooviness of hipsterdom. The concern in the church seems to be we’re missing hard-hitting gospel truth by softening messages to fit a tolerance-minded crowd with esoteric beliefs. Do you think that’s true?
Brett McCracken, author of Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide is quick to point out hip does not equal relevance. “We are to be a counterculture—in and not of the world, accepting yet not acquiescent, flexible but not compromising, progressive though not by the world’s standards. True relevance is not about making faith fit into a hipster sphere as opposed to a fundamentalist box. True relevance is seeking the true faith that transcends all boxes and labels.” McCracken writes more about “Hipster Faith” in Christianity Today.
Why do we have this hipster movement in the church?  Research shows that millennials want real over cool. It seems that when young adults go to church they expect it to be well, church-y.
So, let’s welcome the impact of hipster Christians in our churches. Here are three things we can learn from our hipster friends:
1. Embrace the Unknown
Hipsters seem to have an innate ability to know the “next thing” before it’s the “next thing.” They may have some ideas to help you anticipate the needs of the church and community. Let them dream, plan and explore ideas with you. They have their finger on the pulse of culture. That doesn’t have to be a threat, it can be a catalyst.
2. Chew on Truth
Above all hipsters are seeking truth. Yes, this can be taken too far into being so relevant, politically correct and esoteric that they miss the point altogether, but hipsters aren’t the only ones who’ve done that. We can learn from each other to dig into scripture and discuss and share what we’re learning and discovering. Bigger questions and deeper answers can be grappled with together.
3. Creativity and Diversity
Hipsters often are creative, diverse and innovative. Empower these gifts and make a space for them. If you’ve ever wondered where are the young adults are or where all the creatives are, ask a hipster! Creativity breeds creativity. Let them know they’re valued.
So what?
We all need to keep ourselves in check from hipster to traditional and every church and ministry in between. Are we making truth attractive and relevant? If so, have at it! Or, are we trying to come up with an alternative for truth with cushiony messages that don’t offend so everyone can feel cozy in the pew? You might need to rethink that.
The church is responding to culture by minimizing the gap between the churched and the unchurched, which is good. The danger is if we’re sacrificing truth for attendance and choosing style over discipleship.
Do you think hipster Christians are on to something?
Esther Laurie Esther Laurie is a staff writer at Her background is in communication and church ministry. She believes in the power of the written word and the beauty of transformation and empowering others. When she’s not working, she loves running, exploring new places and time with friends and family. It’s her goal to work the word ‘whimsy’ into most conversations. More from Esther Laurie or visit Esther at

Danny Lotz, son-in-law of the Rev. Billy Graham, and husband of evangelist Anne Graham Lotz, passes onto his reward

Danny Lotz, son-in-law of the Rev. Billy Graham, and husband of evangelist Anne Graham Lotz, passes onto his reward
By Dan Wooding, Founder of the ASSIST News Service
Anne Graham Lotz and Danny Lotz Main ImageRALEIGH, NC – (ANS – August 23, 2015) – Dr. Danny Lotz, the son-in-law of the Rev. Billy Graham, has died at the age of 78, after being found unresponsive in the swimming pool of the Raleigh home he shared with his wife, evangelist Anne Graham Lotz.
A retired dentist, Danny Lotz, who was known to many as “God’s Gladiator,” died on Wednesday, August 19, according to Rex Hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina, which issued a statement for the Lotz family.
The retired dentist was taken off life support two days after he was admitted to the hospital.
A statement on Anne Lotz's Facebook page said the couple had been married for nearly 49 years and her husband suffered from heart disease that required five arterial stents.
According to a message on, Danny and Anne would have been married for forty-nine years on September 2nd.
Danny Lotz the basketball star“At the age of fifty Danny developed a severe case of Adult 1 diabetes. For over ten years following his retirement from dentistry he fought the ravages of the disease, earning him the beloved nickname, ‘God’s Gladiator,” said the message.
“He lost the sight in one eye and the hearing in one ear. His heart disease required five stents in his arteries. His renal failure dictated three days of dialysis each week, five hours each time. And yet he never complained, never slowed down, never gave up, never stopped investing in the lives of others.”
I had the privilege of spending a week in New York City with Danny Lotz as part of the Festival of Life NYC '02 outreach led by former Ground Zero chaplain, Mike MacIntosh, and held on the second anniversary of the devastating 9/11 attack. Danny was also one of the speakers at some of the events.
As we travelled around his home city New York – he was born in Flushing, Long Island – he shared with me details of his life with Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s second daughter who her father has called “the best preacher in the family.”
Lotz, a gentle giant, told me that he still could still hardly believe that the “shy” girl he first met and fell in love with back in 1964 is now the dynamic preacher who addresses thousands in arenas across the United States as she aims call people to a personal relationship with God through His Word.
At 6’6”, this former college basketball star who played on the North Carolina team that won the national championship in 1957, said, “My father, who ran the Ascension Baptist Church in the Bronx, was also a street-corner preacher in New York City until the Lord called him home at the age of 84.
“A lot of the weekends, we would go with him to the Bowery Mission where my brothers and I would play the trumpet and trombones and my Dad would share the Good News.”
Danny Lotz got a full basketball scholarship to the University of North Carolina and said, “I was honored to be on that team. It was during the next year that I broke my leg, and ended my career. I couldn't understand why this happen at the time, but because of that I heard about a group called The Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA). And that resulted in my meeting Anne for the first time.
“Through this organization, I ministered on campus and around the state and then years later, at an FCA conference in 1964, I first met Anne. She was dating a high school fellow and her folks - Dr. Billy and Ruth Graham - lived close to where the FCA conference was to take place. Anne came over to hear the speakers, and the first time I saw her, that's all it took for me. I fell head over heels in love with her.
Billy Graham with Anne Graham Lotz“She was a gorgeous 5 feet 9 inches tall, blonde with blue eyes. Her dad got the word out that he wanted her to date one of the college guys. Anne was 17 at the time and I was 28 so you can imagine the difference.”
He said that Anne agreed to come on a date with him for the second night of the conference and when he arrived at the Graham's mountaintop home in Montreat, North Carolina, Mrs. Ruth Graham told him, “Be sure to bring her home by 9:30 p.m.”
Lotz went on to say, “So I brought her home by that time and Anne went to bed and I stayed and talked with her mother until about midnight.
“On my second date, the family knew I was serious, so they invited a lot of family members for a big steak-out at their home. I arrived and talked with everybody and then I went outside where Dr. Graham was cooking the steaks. When I got there, the whole place was in flames and the steaks were all burned. Mr. Graham said, ‘Let’s just scrape off the charcoal. The steaks will be good any way.’ I believe that was his last cooking job that I've ever seen. He was definitely a better preacher than he was a cook.”
Danny Lotz had by now joined the US Air Force and was stationed in New Mexico and continued, “I wrote her every day for 15 days and I never heard from her. Then I finally heard from her. She and her family had been on vacation and so that's why she hadn't responded. Then I came and visited her. There was an Air Force plane coming to North Carolina so I hitched a ride and dated her again in July.
“Then, that September I got out of the service and her father was having a crusade in Denver so I went there and met Anne. I drove her to Estes Park, which was an hour from Denver. However, when she got there she got deathly sick. Her temperature was 104 degrees, so I rushed her back to the hotel and her Dad got her a doctor. We found out that she had mononucleosis, which is a rare blood disease that you get when you are over-stressed. So instead of going off to Wheaton College, she had to go back home to North Carolina and I moved to Raleigh to set up my dental practice.
“Every Friday night, I drove to Montreat and saw Anne for a few minutes. Her mother would cook me a big steak and I would spend the weekend with them. I did that for a year. At the end of that year we got engaged, and I was asked to go to London for the Billy Graham crusade at Earls Court. I spent two months in the UK doing basketball clinics around England and sharing my testimony. I was rooming with Charlie Riggs, who was then the head of counseling and Loren Sanny, who was the head of Navigators. I actually played for the English basketball team once against the Belgians and we beat them. But it was wonderful to meet the young people and invite them to the crusade.”
The couple was married Sept. 2, 1966, at the little chapel at the Graham house in Montreat. “I was 29 at the time and Anne was 18, so you can imagine the phone calls that their family got.
“I have to say that Anne at 18, was as mature as any Christian girl at 50 years of age because of the way she was brought up and grounded in the scriptures. My father and Dr. Graham did the ceremony together. Then we went to Palma Valley, California, for our honeymoon. We flew to California for a week, then came back and set up our little house in Raleigh, North Carolina.”
The couple then set up house in Raleigh, N.C., and began their family. Anne began her speaking career not long after in a rather unlikely way.
Danny and Ann Graham Lotz at their home Main ImageDan told me about Anne's first-ever speaking engagement: “Anne was very shy when we first married and never spoke in public,” he said. “I was asked by a pastor if Anne and I would do a Valentine's Banquet. This was months away and I didn't think of asking Anne. A couple of days before we were due to speak, her picture was in the paper, which said that Anne Graham Lotz would speak. Well, Anne called me at the office. She was so upset and said she wouldn't do it. We had a bad evening that night. She was all nervous and stayed up most of the night. We were each supposed to share for 15 minutes that night. She spoke first, and half-an-hour later I had to get up and tap her on the shoulder to say, ‘Anne, I'm supposed to speak too.’
“From then on, Anne has never looked back.”
From 1976-1988, he said, Anne taught Bible Study Fellowship, a weekly Bible study class in Raleigh, N.C. of over 500 women. Her original class multiplied until today there are 10 other classes of similar size in Raleigh.
“Then about,” he said at the time, “eight years ago, Anne was getting so many calls to speak around the country that she just felt like the Lord was calling her to go out to preach and teach,” he said. “She started speaking mainly to women's meetings in churches around the country in churches. She would be invited to speak at churches and she said she would come if they also would invite the Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and the Assemblies of God. It got bigger and she felt so burdened that women needed to be grounded in God's Word that years ago she started these revivals and it was with Jill Briscoe and Kay Arthur. Then she added Fernando Ortega, who sings, 'Just Give Me Jesus,' as the musician. She has had about 10 of these meetings. She's already had one in Raleigh. Next month will be Cleveland, then Denver, then Tampa and Charlotte.”
He went on to say, “I am in awe when I see her speak, because this is my shy little wife and here she is out proclaiming the Good News in such an anointed way.”
Anne established AnGeL Ministries, an independent non-profit corporation, in 1988. AnGeL Ministries is based in Raleigh, N.C. and is committed to giving out messages of Biblical exposition so that God's Word is personal and relevant to ordinary people. The ministry's name, derived from the initials of Anne Graham Lotz (AGL), is especially fitting as an angel's Biblical role is to go only where the Lord sends and to proclaim only the Word of the Lord. AnGeL Ministries serves as the umbrella organization for the diverse ministry of Anne Graham Lotz - including her many books, tapes and speaking engagements as well as special events like “Just Give Me Jesus” and “A Passionate Pursuit.”
When asked if he ever got jealous of Anne, Lotz replied firmly, “No. Having been brought up in the family of a street-corner preacher, you just praise the Lord for whoever gives out the Good News and for Anne to be called. She is so gifted. I give little talks, but you know that she is so gifted and the Lord has anointed her for this ministry.”
Anne Graham's Lotz website can be found at .
Now Danny Lotz has gone home to his reward, but I’ll never forget that week in New York with him as he revealed about his wonderful marriage to Anne Graham Lotz. He was truly a humble and fascinating person.
Photo captions: 1) Danny Lotz and his wife, Anne Graham Lotz (holding Long Leaf Pine citation). (Special to The Herald-Sun/Dan Way). 2) Danny Lotz fires a left-handed hook shot in this UNC archival photo taken at Woollen Gym circa 1956. (UNC file photo) 3) Billy Graham with Anne at his home. 4) The couple together at their home. 4) Dan Wooding chats with Billy and Ruth Graham at their Montreat, North Carolina, home.
Dan Wooding with Billy and Ruth GrahamAbout the writer: Dan Wooding, 74, is an award-winning journalist who was born in Nigeria of British missionary parents, and is now living in Southern California with his wife Norma, to whom he has been married for more than 52 years. They have two sons, Andrew and Peter, and six grandchildren who all live in the UK. Dan is the founder and international director of ASSIST (Aid to Special Saints in Strategic Times) and the ASSIST News Service (ANS). He is also the author of some 45 books. Dan began his journalistic career in 1968 on Billy Graham’s British newspaper, The Christian, and in later years was part of Mr. Graham’s media team in Russia, Germany and Puerto Rico.
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What Can You Do in 10 Seconds?

What Can You Do in 10 Seconds? (Writer's Opinion)
By Carol Round, Special to ASSIST News Service
CLAREMORE, OK (ANS – August 24, 2015)If you love me, keep my commands”—John 14:15 (NIV).
Usain BoltDubbed the fastest man on earth, Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt set the world record for running the 100 meter dash in under 10 seconds with a time of 9.58 in the World Athletics Championship finals in 2009. No man has beaten his record since.
Ten seconds. What can we as Christians do in that brief time that leads to following Jesus in an obedient manner? In his book, “The 10 Second Rule: Following Jesus Made Simple,” author Clare DeGraaf writes, “Most of us would like to think of ourselves as followers of Jesus, but what does that really mean, practically?”
In Luke 9:23, Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.”
Says DeGraaf, “Simply put, it’s trusting Jesus enough to say ‘no’ to what we want, and ‘yes’ to what he wants. So, then why is it we don’t obey him more often than we do?”
During the course of his days, Graaf began to notice impressions to do something he was reasonably certain Jesus wanted him to do. “It could be an impression to either do something good for someone or a warning about a sin I was about to commit.”
He adds, “Almost simultaneously I would sense another voice whispering to me. ‘You don’t have time to do that—helping that person could get messy—you can’t afford to help them right now.’”
Graaf said if he listened to this other voice and thought about it too long “the moment for obedience would pass, often to my relief.” Graaf finally realized he was actually procrastinating and unintentionally teaching himself the habit of disobedience because he knew every decision to obey would cost him something—time, money, embarrassment, inconvenience or a momentary pleasure denied. By choosing not to obey Jesus, he could avoid all these things.
Then Graaf learned about the 10-second rule. “It is,” he says, “just doing the next thing you’re reasonably certain Jesus wants you to do—and doing it immediately before you change your mind!”
After studying Jesus’ teachings, Graaf has become more spontaneous to simple obedience when opportunities are sent his way. Graaf says, “The Rule doesn’t require you to be absolutely certain an impression is from God before you obey. In fact, I’ve found that the need for certainty is often the enemy of obedience.”
Even if the impression isn’t from God, he adds, “You’ve still done something good for another person.”
Graff admits he sometimes fail to live by “The Rule.” However, it has become easier and has changed the way he responds to others’ needs. “It becomes a Christian habit,” he adds. “It gives you a place to begin again following Jesus, right now—today, if you’ve drifted spiritually. It’s following Jesus made simple and being led by Jesus, moment by moment, day by day—or even in the next 10 seconds.”
If you want to experience the natural consequences of a surrendered life, try the 10 second rule. It might just become a habit—a Godly one.
Photo captions: 1) World champion sprinter, Usain Bolt. 2) Carol Round.
Carol Round portrait useI always love hearing from my readers. If you'd like to comment on this post, please email me at  or visit my blog for more inspiration at 
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Walking back to Happiness! Jewish pop star finds joy in Jesus

Walking back to Happiness! Jewish pop star finds joy in Jesus
By Charles Gardner, Special to ASSIST News Service
The Beatles with Helen Shapiro Chaz GardnerLONDON, UK (ANS -- August 24, 2015) -- Just as the “swinging sixties” started to gain momentum, a Jewish teenager called Helen Shapiro from the East End of London took the pop world by storm with a string of hits.
Her first – Don’t Treat Me Like a Child – was appropriate enough as she was only 14 at the time (1961) and it reached No 3 in the charts.
By early 1963 she was bigger than The Beatles – for a time. They actually accompanied her on a tour of the UK as her support act; she was the main attraction.
She recalls with affectionate nostalgia the banter she shared on the bus with John, Paul, George and Ringo. And it was during this tour, in February 1963, that Please, Please Me became the Fab Four’s first No 1.
Helen also made No 1 around this time with her classic upbeat number Walking Back to Happiness, but says the lyrics of the song were not fulfilled until August 26 1987 – over twenty years later – when she found Jesus!
That was 28 years ago almost to the day, as she told an audience in South Elmsall, near Doncaster, Yorkshire, on Saturday night.
Helen Shapiro with the Beatles Chaz GardnerAnd for someone who associated Christians with persecutors of her people, it was quite an amazing turnaround.
She had been confused and upset when, as a child in the school playground, someone yelled at her: “You killed Jesus Christ!”
[This is a common misconception about Jews, especially among those untutored in the Scriptures, which make it clear that Christ had to die as the spotless Lamb of God paying for the sins of the world. He had offered himself of his own accord to be nailed to a cross.]
Helen duly developed her own system of beliefs after turning to mediums and spiritists, believing that God was involved in all those things. But then, soon after her 40th birthday, she no longer believed it and began questioning the very existence of God.
She was in the midst of this crisis when her musical director (who was unaware of it) gave her a book to read, Betrayed by Stan Telchin. It was about a respectable member of a Jewish community who was suddenly faced with a daughter announcing that she believed Jesus was the Messiah of Israel. He duly set out to prove her wrong and ended up becoming a believer himself!
Helen began studying the many prophecies of the promised Messiah in the Jewish Bible (what Christians refer to as the Old Testament) and was astonished at how accurately they seemed to be fulfilled in Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew). Helen Shapiro record cover Chaz GardnerThese included references to a virgin birth in Bethlehem while the description of the suffering servant in Isaiah 53 was surely a picture of the crucifixion, despite having been written some 600 years earlier.
“Isaiah 53 was about how He took our sins… I was gobsmacked. And Daniel prophesied that the Messiah had to die before the temple was destroyed. It all seemed to point to Jesus.”
So now she ventured to read “the chunk on the end I’m not supposed to read. And taking my courage in both hands, I opened the New Testament.”
She wondered if she would discover “anti-Jewish poison” in view of the track record of the professing church, which had committed unspeakable crimes against her people. “No wonder we don’t come running towards this Jesus.”
She started at the beginning – Matthew’s gospel – and was surprised to find “the most Jewish thing outside the Old Testament” – the genealogy of Jesus which included a list of all the names from which Messiah must come.
“Did you know the New Testament is Jewish?” she asked the audience. “It was written by Jewish men about the most famous Jew of all, and they were living in the land of Israel according to the Law of Moses.
“Jesus rose up out of the pages to me and I fell in love with him. I was so taken with him. He looked at people’s hearts and saw all the rubbish and yet still loved them. Even in his agony he came out with gracious, comforting words. I saw that he was fulfilling one Messianic prophecy after another.”
Just to make sure the English translators hadn’t twisted anything to suit their purposes, she got hold of a Bible (the Tenach, or Old Testament to Christians) from a Jewish shop to check that it included the same Messianic prophecies.
“Blow me: there they were in all their glory. I was so relieved.”
Back to the New Testament, she read through the four gospels. “By the end of John I knew without a shadow of doubt that Jesus was the fulfilment of every Messianic prophecy; that he was the Jewish Messiah.”
She contacted her musical director and his wife, bombarded them with questions, realized that she had been deceived by her dabbling with the occult and, at 10.30pm on August 26 1987, gave her life to Jesus.
Helen Shapiro with John Lennon Chaz Gardner“There were no lightning flashes, but somewhere inside I knew that I knew, and that there was no turning back. The Creator and sustainer of the universe came to live in my life. I didn’t get religion. I got Jesus, and I love him.”
She had one further question and wrote to Stan Telchin, the author of the book that had started things off for her, asking: “Will I stop being Jewish by following Jesus?”
“Of course not,” he replied. “You will be fulfilling your Jewishness. He’s coming back as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”
Acknowledging that God still has a plan for the nation of Israel, Helen emphasized that both Jew and Gentile find salvation only through the blood of Jesus.
Though we are born physically, our spirits are dead because of man’s sin and rebellion against God. That’s why we need to be born again.
And God established the system of animal sacrifices to demonstrate that only through the shedding of the blood of an innocent substitute can a sinner be saved.
“They were pointers to the once-for-all sacrifice that Jesus became that day on the cross in Jerusalem when he shed his blood for the sins of the world. That’s why he came.”
Walking back to Happiness is also the title of Helen’s autobiography, published by Harper Collins.
Photo captions: 1) The Beatles with Helen Shapiro (next to Ringo). 2) Topping the bill over the Beatles. 3) Record cover. 4) Helen with John Lennon. 4) Charles Gardner with his wife, Linda.
Charles Gardner with his wife Linda useAbout the writer: Charles Gardner is a veteran Cape Town-born British journalist working on plans to launch a new UK national newspaper reporting and interpreting the news from a biblical perspective. With his South African forebears having had close links with the legendary devotional writer Andrew Murray, Charles is similarly determined to make an impact for Christ with his pen and has worked in the newspaper industry for more than 41 years. Part-Jewish, he is married to Linda, who takes the Christian message around many schools in the Yorkshire town of Doncaster. Charles has four children and seven grandchildren. Charles can be reached by phone on +44 (0) 1302 832987, or by e-mail at 
** You may republish this and any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (

Jumat, 07 Agustus 2015

My Generation Will End Abortion

Give Your Marijuana to the Church: A Story of Stewardship

Give Your Marijuana to the Church: A Story of Stewardship

“We decided that any conversation about giving should start not with need but with abundance.”
One doesn’t have to look far online to find a host of troubling statistics about the dire state of faith-based giving in America. A recent Huffington Post headline trumpets: “Church Giving Down to Depression-Era Lows.” According to another report on, the situation is even worse than that. During the Great Depression, Christians gave an average of 3.3 percent of their incomes. In 2011 they gave a meager 2.5 percent. Even more concerning is a second figure reported by the same article: 33-50 percent of church members give nothing at all.
And, while hand-wringing and flop sweating can be found in abundance, what is harder to find are pastors and churches with practical solutions to the problem. (Besides simply badgering their congregations to “give more. Give more! No seriously … GIVE MORE!”)
This was the challenge facing the team at The Rock Church in Point Loma, Calif., in the fall of 2010. Having grown from 0 to 12,000+ in only a decade, The Rock was one of the fastest growing churches in America. This growth, however, did not insulate The Rock from the financial difficulties facing churches around the nation. If anything, it only compounded the issues created by diminished giving.
Saddled with a sizeable mortgage but committed to making an impact for The Kingdom throughout San Diego County, the team at The Rock began brainstorming ways to engage their congregation on the subject of giving without peppering every service with repeated appeals for increased giving. They wanted to talk about stewardship—particularly sacrificial stewardship—without any of the guilt or awkwardness that the subject so often elicits.
“We live in one of the wealthiest cities in America,” says James Lawrence, The Rock’s Chief of Staff. “Because of that, we decided that any conversation about giving should start not with need but with abundance. We wanted people to start thinking ‘look how much I have’ instead of ‘look how much the church needs.’”
Changing the conversation, however, was only the first step. According to Lawrence, the greater challenge was to help people put their intentions into action.
“Getting people to view their purchases as an opportunity for generosity is great, but what good is it if they are not able to respond in the moment?” asks Lawrence. “We needed a way for our members to take action whenever and wherever the opportunity to give presented itself.”
As it happens, a solution was already waiting for them. Around this same time, The Rock was in the process of transitioning their online giving over to Mogiv, a cloud based electronic giving system for churches and nonprofits. In addition to providing a host of essential digital giving features (i.e., scheduled giving, multiple campaigns, embeddable giving forms, mobile giving, etc.), the Mogiv system also included a built-in feature that would enable members to give not only quickly and securely, but sacrificially as well.
With this feature (called “GivUp”), a giver could simply text the name of an item they wanted to sacrifice as well as the dollar amount of that item to a special address provided by the church. Following a brief confirmation process, their gift would be processed alongside a record of what they had “given up” for the church.
With the GivUp tool at their disposal, The Rock challenged their congregation to begin thinking critically about their consumption habits. Where was their money being spent? What things were needs and what things were merely wants? What things might they be willing to do without in order to dedicate more of their resources to the work of The Kingdom?
Using bulletin inserts, graphics and announcements on Sunday morning, The Rock’s team introduced The GivUp Challenge to the congregation. They then sat back and waited to see who—if anyone—would respond. They didn’t have to wait long. Before the service was even over, GivUp gifts started flying in. They haven’t stopped since.
From spa weekends to breakfast burritos, from fancy dinners and new wardrobes to frozen yogurt and golf outings—the list of things “given up” over the past four years by The Rock’s congregation now stretches to nearly 2,000 items.
Some people found basic, everyday purchases that they could do without. $3.50 for Starbucks; $5.00 for a week’s worth of snacks from the vending machine; $10.00 for a movie.
For others, the sacrifice had a higher price tag. $200 for an afternoon of hair and nail maintenance; $500 from a pay raise; $4,000 that had been earmarked for new wood floors in a member’s house. A pair of candid givers even gave up items rarely associated with the Sunday morning collection plate: $200.00 for alcohol and $25.00 for marijuana.
“I think it’s safe to say even the most optimistic of us were amazed by the response,” says Lawrence. “While the campaign was going on, we would put a list of items people had sacrificed that week up on the screen during the offering, which in turn provided a great teaching opportunity. The ability to connect the concept of stewardship with tangible items that we consume every week continues to impact the way we talk about giving at our church.”
Matt Hayes, a co-founder at Mogiv and one of the architects of the GivUp feature, says that this connection between buying and giving is the very thing that led his team to create the GivUp tool in the first place.
“Look at the way generosity is described in the Old Testament,” says Hayes. “People would bring fruit, grain, livestock and other valuables into the temple. I think giving was so much more concrete back then. Today, I’m obviously not going to put the lunches or lattes I’ve skipped into the plate on Sunday morning, but GivUp is a way of modeling that same behavior in our digital age.”
While advising against viewing technology as a “magic bullet,” Mr. Hayes went on to say that churches need to be more creative in how they think and talk about stewardship.
“The same techniques that worked 20 and even 10 years ago, may not work today,” says Hayes. “The Rock is a great example of this. Their willingness to embrace a new giving channel and to combine that channel with a compelling message of ‘radical generosity’ has impacted far more than their bottom line. It’s changed the hearts and attitudes of their givers. And isn’t that what it’s about anyway?”
Looking beyond the specific circumstances at The Rock, Mr. Lawrence said he believes the response of The Rock’s congregation can serve as an encouragement to other churches as it indicates a solution that is programmatic or technologic as opposed to spiritual or generational. Churchgoers want to give. Church leaders simply need to find the tools and messaging that will help their members capitalize on their best intentions.
Whether or not The Rock’s story is prescriptive or merely anecdotal, it is—at the very least—an encouraging data point for anyone depressed over the troublesome state of religious giving today. And it couldn’t come at a better time. With giving to American churches trending downward for the fourth consecutive year, there will certainly be dozens of churches facing difficult decisions in the months ahead. It is heartening to see what can be accomplished when a congregation tries “giving up” before they give up.  

Nathan R. Elson is a Christ follower, relentlessly obsessed with “better” and on a mission to see everyone around him be the best version of themselves. He serves businesses, non-profits, and churches around the world with branding, technology, and communications. More from Nathan Elson or visit Nathan at

Cultivating a Growing Friendship

Cultivating a Growing Friendship

Couple riding bicycles in the town
By Jamaal Williams
The weight of pastoring can sometimes feel like bench pressing 1,000 pounds! Even though we’re told to “cast our cares on Christ,” we often struggle to do it. As a result, we can find ourselves bringing work home. If we aren’t careful, our marriage will be affected and begin to feel more like a business arrangement than a friendship. This experience can last for years, for months, or for a day. However long it lasts, this isn’t what God desires for us. While He extends grace to us during these times, His desire is that our heart be intimately connected to our spouse’s.
God has joined two together as one not to be business partners but covenant friends to the end. God said, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Gen. 2:24).” It’s in this “holding fast” that friendships are cultivated, but it most certainly requires purposeful effort! In fact, if you’re like me, cultivating a growing friendship with your spouse takes prayer and intentionality. Here are some simple suggestions to keep your friendship with your spouse a top priority:
Work on your marriage at home and work at work!
Nothing can steal a day off like not really having the day off. Returning an email here or there, answering a couple of phone calls, and consulting various commentaries about a passage you’re not supposed to work through until tomorrow, silently draws you away from your family. Drawing boundaries for work and rest is critical.
After a long day at the office or a challenging counseling conversation, before you go home, read verses like Ephesians 5:22-32, Philippians 2:3-11, or 1 Peter 3:7 to help you unplug and redirect your heart toward serving and loving your wife. This will only take a couple of minutes and will remind you of how God can empower you to love your wife! Also, it may be helpful to turn off distracting noises and alerts from your devices while conversing with your wife.
Spend time building spiritual intimacy.
It’s important that we connect with our wives in every area. Perhaps none is more important than spiritual intimacy in a pastor’s marriage. In Ephesians 5, Paul exhorts men to wash their wives with the water of the word. This is a calling for all Christian men. If we’re honest, as pastors we can easily neglect this area. While sharing our sermons with our spouse or even listening to her critique us after we preach may help cultivate spiritual intimacy, it’s probably not the best way. For my wife and I, sharing a similar Bible reading plan together helps us have easy flowing conversations about the Word, whether over dinner or while we do chores.
Another way to cultivate spiritual intimacy is to pray together. Perhaps, nothing unveils the heart like honest prayer requests. Take a few minutes when you get home to pray for the difficulties and blessings of the day. You will be surprised how this can help you both to relax.
My final suggestion for cultivating spiritual intimacy with your wife is to watch a spiritually-enriching Bible study series together. Focus on the Family has a great one, The Family Project, which can get you started.
Have fun together.
Every pastoral search committee should ask potential pastors this question: What do you and your wife like to do for fun?
Pastors, it’s hard to serve the Lord joyfully when you’re exhausted and your wife is frustrated. Resting well and dating our wives takes faith. When we’re too busy to have fun and laugh together, it will show in the way we preach and minister to others. Instead of being lighthearted and hope-filled we come off “zapped.” Most importantly, the person we once viewed as the woman sent from God drifts farther away from us.
We owe it to our committed and beautiful wives to give them an enjoyable marriage and to show them that we love them more than the church that we pastor. We can do this by planning picnics, walking in scenic places, having game nights, entertaining couples we enjoy being around, sharing funny experiences throughout our day, or doing whatever makes her smile.
Have stimulating conversations.
Part of what makes a friendship enjoyable is great conversation. Friends can talk for hours, and it only feels like minutes. Our goal in marriage should be to have our spouse as our favorite conversation partner. This takes hard work because once you’ve been married for a while you begin to think that you know what a person will say or feel about a situation. However, thoughts such as these hinder us from communicating with our spouse and growing with them. Even if we do know where they stand in regard to a subject, there’s nothing like hearing them say it in their own unique way! Bookmark articles, talk radio conversations, and trending news topics, and talk about them with your spouse.
Get away alone.
Throughout the year we must leave daily distractions and cleave to our wives in solitude! As I shared this list with my wife, this point stood out to her the most. She said our two-day and week-long getaways without the kids grew our friendship the most, and I agree. Time away from the kids, commentaries, and the everyday grind of ministry can breathe life back into your marriage. If our ministry will collapse because we took a week off to spend it with our wives, then we should re-evaluate the ministry because it’s probably taking precedence over our marriage.
There is an old saying, “Love is friendship set on fire.” I couldn’t agree more. As we seek to encourage and pursue our wives, may the Lord give us grace to love her like Christ loves the church and set an example for the flock.
Copyright © 2015 by Jamaal Williams. Used by permission.
Jamaal Williams is Pastor of Forest Baptist Church in Louisville, Ky. He is a native of Chicago, IL. Jamaal received his bachelor’s degree from Michigan State University where he served as president of Intervarsity Christian Fellowship’s black chapter. He has the M.A in Church Ministries and is currently pursuing a D.Ed. Min in Black Church Leadership from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Jamaal serves on the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission Leadership Council. He is married to Amber, and they are the parents of Nia, Kayla, and Josiah.

5 Church Views of Discipleship

5 Church Views of Discipleship

“The church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs.”
I have been in many settings with church leaders where the question was posed, “What is your church doing for discipleship?” I am grateful that church leaders are asking questions about the church’s fundamental mission—making disciples. After all, a church can excel at anything and everything else, but if the church fails to make disciples, she has wandered from her fundamental reason for existence.
But the question almost always needs to be answered with a follow-up question: “What do you mean by discipleship?” People could mean at least one of these five common and current views:

1) One-on-one mentoring

Some churches want to step more and more into “one-on-one mentoring.” The struggle will be scalability as developing leaders for small groups is already challenging enough. While a one-on-one mentoring model can be utilized, it would be a mistake to view discipleship as limited to that approach. 

2) New believer follow-up

Some church leaders think “new believer training” when they hear the word “discipleship.” While pouring into new believers must be important to a church, discipleship is the lifelong process of becoming more and more like Jesus. It does not end six to 12 weeks after someone is born into the kingdom of God.

3) Education classes

Some church leaders think “knowledge” when they hear the word “discipleship.” And so to them a discipleship problem means an information problem. The solution, then, is to provide more classes where people receive information. While disciples yearn to know more about Jesus, to dwell in His Word and to feast on teaching, Jesus defined disciple-making as “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded,” not merely teaching them everything I have commanded. Thus, discipleship is much deeper than merely information.

4) Groups

Because community is absolutely essential in the process of becoming more like Jesus, groups are important. All of the conversations about discipleship will lead wise church leaders to conclude that their groups must become more important. As the discipleship conversation escalates, so should the group conversation. But a key question for leaders is, “Are groups a part of your discipleship process, OR are groups your sole discipleship process?” Because a disciple serves, lives on mission, reproduces and worships, most churches will likely conclude that a group is part of a disciple’s journey and not the end.

5) Mission & overarching process

A church that embraces the reality that they are on the planet to make disciples views all they do through a discipleship lens. They view their worship gatherings, their groups, their service in the community, and their ministries to kids and students all as critical aspects in their “disciple-making process.” They haven’t reduced discipleship to an event, to a class, to something that is checked off a list. “Making disciples” is what the church is all about.
The dangerous downside of this view is that anything and everything can receive a “discipleship label.” Thus, we need leaders who constantly seek to shred anything that doesn’t help people in our churches become more like Jesus. C.S. Lewis stated it this way:
The church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons … are simply a waste of time.
Without clarity, leaders could be mentally seeing different pictures and hearing different definitions when they hear the word “discipleship.” Church leaders are wise to bring clarity to how their churches are designed to fulfill their mission of making disciples.  

Eric Geiger Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Prior to LifeWay, Eric served local churches, most recently investing eight years as the executive pastor of Christ Fellowship Miami. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball. More from Eric Geiger or visit Eric at

How Do You Know You’re Repentant?

How Do You Know You’re Repentant?

Twelve signs that mark a genuinely repentant heart.
How do you know when someone is repentant? In his helpful little book Church Discipline, Jonathan Leeman offers some guidance:
“A few verses before Jesus’ instruction in Matthew 18 about church discipline, he provides us with help for determining whether an individual is characteristically repentant: W ould the person be willing to cut off a hand or tear out an eye rather than repeat the sin (Matt. 18:8-9)? That is to say, is he or she willing to do whatever it takes to fight against the sin? Repenting people, typically, are zealous about casting off their sin. That’s what God’s Spirit does inside of them. When this happens, one can expect to see a willingness to accept outside counsel. A willingness to inconvenience their schedules. A willingness to confess embarrassing things. A willingness to make financial sacrifices or lose friends or end relationships.” (p. 72)
These are good indicators, and I believe we can add a few more.
Here are 12 signs we have a genuinely repentant heart:
1. We name our sin as sin and do not spin it or excuse it, and further, we demonstrate “godly sorrow,” which is to say, a grief chiefly about the sin itself, not just a grief about being caught or having to deal with the consequences of sin.
2. We actually confessed before we were caught or the circumstantial consequences of our sin caught up with us.
3. If found out, we confess immediately or very soon after and “come clean,” rather than having to have the full truth coaxed out of us. Real repentance is typically accompanied by transparency.
4. We have a willingness and eagerness to make amends. We will do whatever it takes to make things right and to demonstrate we have changed.
5. We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized, spending as much time as is required listening to them without jumping to defend ourselves.
6. We are patient with those we’ve hurt or victimized as they process their hurt, and we don’t pressure them or “guilt” them into forgiving us.
7. We are willing to confess our sin even in the face of serious consequences (including undergoing church discipline, having to go to jail or having a spouse leave us).
8. We may grieve the consequences of our sin but we do not bristle under them or resent them. We understand that sometimes our sin causes great damage to others that is not healed in the short term (or perhaps ever this side of heaven).
9. If our sin involves addiction or a pattern of behavior, we do not neglect to seek help with a counselor, a solid 12-step program or even a rehabilitation center.
10. We don’t resent gracious accountability, pastoral rebuke or church discipline.
11. We seek our comfort in the grace of God in Jesus Christ, not simply in being free of the consequences of our sin.
12. We are humble and teachable.
As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. For see what earnestness this godly grief has produced in you, but also what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what punishment! At every point you have proved yourselves innocent in the matter. —2 Corinthians 7:9-11
(I have put my signs in the first person plural not because it is always inappropriate to seek to gauge someone’s repentance, but because we should always be gauging our own first, and because the truly forgiving heart is interested in an offender’s repentance but isn’t inordinately set on holding up measuring sticks but holding out grace.)  

Jared Wilson Jared is a husband, a father of two, a writer of books, and the pastor of a great church. Most importantly, He is a follower of Jesus. His passion is to spread the gospel wakefulness in the evangelical church. His book "Your Jesus is Too Safe" and "Abide" are available now, and is currently writing a third book entitled "Gospel Wakefulness". More from Jared Wilson or visit Jared at