Thursday, October 28, 2010

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God
as a workman who does not need to be ashamed,
accurately handling the word of truth.

2 Timothy 2:15


Throughout my ministry, God has given me a heart for equipping others. I love to match needs with resources and I love to see those resources make a difference in lives and ministries! My time with LifeWay Christian Resources as Manager of the NOBTS Campus Bookstore shaped that passion! 

That said, I’d love to share a great resource with you... Deo Gloria Trust is a UK based organization who’s mission is to “Promote the Good News about Jesus Christ and encouraging Christians to share it with others!

One of their resources is a
Facebook group called “Theology on the Web”." This ministry exists to make high quality theological material available free-of-charge throughout the world, thus providing Bible teachers and Pastors with the training they need to spread the Gospel in their countries.

This is achieved by:

~ Providing detailed bibliographies for Seminary level students and ministers.

~ Reprinting, in co-operation with authors and publishers, rare and out-of-print theology books and articles.

~ Providing, with the help of volunteers, translations of theological articles in a number of languages. 

~ Providing a single cross-linked resource made up of the following websites:

Biblical Studies
Theological Studies
Early Church
Medieval Church
Biblical Archaeology

Hope these help! Blessings!

Friday, October 22, 2010

What is the Gospel?

The gospel is the singularly most important communication of God to man. In Jesus, who is God the Son, we have the revelation of God’s love and sacrifice that saves us from God's righteous judgment upon sinners.

If you are not a Christian and want to know how to be forgiven of your sins and follow Christ, or are just curious to know what the Christian gospel is, then this is for you.

The Bible tells us what the gospel is in 1 Cor. 15:1-4,

Now I make known to you brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures..."

The Bible says that we are all sinners (Rom. 3:23). This means that we have all offended God. We have all broken His law. Therefore, we are guilty of having sinned. Because of this, we are separated from God (Isaiah 59:2), are dead in our sins (Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:3), cannot please God (Rom. 3:10-11), and will suffer damnation (2 Thess. 1:9). The only way to escape this judgment is by receiving Christ, by trusting in what Jesus did on the cross (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Pet. 2:24).

Since we are sinners, we are incapable of removing the guilt of our sinfulness through our own efforts. Gal. 2:21 says, "...if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly." The Law is the do’s and don’t’s of moral behavior. In other words, we can’t become righteous by what we do. Why? Because we are dead in our sins (Eph. 2:3).

This means that since we cannot remove our own sins, God must do it.

Jesus, who is God in flesh (John 1:1,14; 8:58; Col. 2:9), bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24). He died in our place. He paid the penalty of breaking the Law of God that should have fallen upon us. He satisfied the law of God the Father by dying on the cross.

It is only through Jesus that we can escape the penalty that God will execute upon all who have broken his holy and perfect law. Do you want to be saved from the righteous judgment of God? If so, if you want to become a Christian and follow God, then you must realize that you have sinned against God, and are under his judgment. You must look to Jesus who died on the cross and trust what he did in order for you to be forgiven of your sentence and be saved from the judgment of God. This is accomplished by faith alone in what Jesus has done. You cannot add any human works to what Jesus has done.

First, count the cost

Jesus said, "For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it?" (Luke 14:28). Jesus tells us to count the cost. The cost of becoming a Christian can be quite high sometimes. In some parts of the world it can cost you your life. Here in America, it is not nearly as dangerous. Nevertheless, if you become a Christian God will take it very seriously. He will work in your heart and in your life to change you and make you more like him. Sometimes this is an easy journey and other times it can be difficult. But, this is what it means to become a Christian - to have God work in your life and to continue to work in your life after you have been saved.

Receive Christ

If you desire to receive Christ we offer the following prayer as an example. It is not a formula, but it is a representation of what it means to trust in Christ.

"Lord Jesus. I come to you and confess that I am a sinner, that I have lied, thought evil in my heart, and broken your word. Please forgive me of my sins. I trust in what you have done on the cross and I receive you. Please cleanse me of my sin and be the Lord of my life. I trust you completely for the forgiveness of my sins and put no trust in my own efforts of righteousness. Lord Jesus, please save me."

If you've just prayed this prayer with sincerity, Congratulations! Welcome to the family of God! Now tell others about your commitment to Jesus. The Bible says, "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; 10 for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (Rom. 10:9-10).

This article by Matt Slick is reprinted from the Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry ________________________

List of some scriptures referenced above:

  • Isaiah 59:2, "Your sins have caused a separation between you and your God...."
  • John 1:1, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
  • John 1:14, "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."
  • John 8:58, "Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am."
  • John 14:6, "Jesus *said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me."
  • Acts 4:12, "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved."
  • Romans 3:10-11, "as it is written,’ There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God...’"
  • Romans 3:23, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God"
  • Romans 6:23, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord."
  • Romans 10:9-10, "if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved; 10 for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation."
  • Ephesians 2:3, "Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest."
  • Colossians 2:9, "For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,"
  • 2 Thess. 1:9, "And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,"
  • 1 Pet. 2:24, "and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


A pastor friend recently challenged me to begin writing more frequently, so I’ve started blogging again. Not too consistently, I might add... but its picking up. It’s been a wonderful exercise in discipline and has helped me clarify thoughts. I felt like a natural place to start would be to interact with one of the books I have recently read, so I started blogging about Chuck Swindoll’s most current book,
The Church Awakening. It has been a unique experience, in part because of the content of the book.

While the ultimate aim of the book is to offer some encouragement, inspiration, and focus for the church, the first chapters don’t start out that way! Swindoll points out the drift that has occurred in the church. He chides the leaders of today’s church for allowing spiritual erosion and decay. He paints a dismal picture of the problems of the modern church.

As I’ve blogged day by day, I noticed a trend... NEGATIVITY! I’m working through these early chapters which are primarily rebuke! But obviously, casting stones is not Swindoll’s ultimate aim, and it’s certainly not mine.

The book is focused on reestablishing a life-altering church with Christ as Lord and Master. The publisher’s review calls it “Illuminating and empowering” and tauts that “this volume will ignite a revolution in the way Christians “do church” for years to come.”

While I still have several days worth of blogs that cover the problems and challenges before getting to the opportunities and solutions... I wanted to take a small hiatus from that line of thought and focus on the beauty of the church... Christ’s Church!

Years ago, while attending a conference at Willow Creek Community Church, I heard Pastor Bill Hybels say, “The local church is the hope of the world.” With great passion and conviction, he inspired the attendees to give themselves for the church!

In His book Courageous Leadership, Hybels comments “There is nothing like the local church when it’s working right. Its beauty is indescribable. Its power is breathtaking. Its potential is unlimited. It comforts the grieving and heals the broken in the context of community. It builds bridges to seekers and offers truth to the confused. It provides resources for those in need and opens its arms to the forgotten, the downtrodden, the disillusioned. It breaks the chains of addictions, frees the oppressed, and offers belonging to the marginalized of this world. Whatever the capacity for human suffering, the church has a greater capacity for healing and wholeness.
Still to this day, the potential of the local church is almost more than I can grasp. No other organization on earth is like the church. Nothing even comes close.” ~Hybels, Courageous Leadership.

May we be reminded that Jesus owns the church...He bought it with His own blood. He calls it His Bride, His Body! May we be inspired to follow the Lord in humble, holy obedience and BE the church that He intended!

and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:27

Sunday, October 17, 2010

On Sunday, our small group began a study of Larry Osborne's 10 Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe. Amazing book that will be helpful in dispelling Sunday School myths that might just be undermining your faith! Here is a sample chapter...


I’ll never forget the day my wife and I stopped by the local hospital for what we knew would be our last visit with her friend Susan.

For three years, Susan had put up a valiant fight against a disease that was now in its last stages. Her labored breathing, gaunt figure, and deep-set eyes made it painfully obvious that she would not be around much longer.

As we sat by her bed, wondering what to say and how to pray, I was stumped. (I’m a pastor and I’m supposed to know what to say in these situations.) But before I could say anything profound—or even trite—our awkward silence was broken by the entrance of Susan’s husband, John, into the room.

We exchanged hugs and a quick greeting. Then John began to talk. He spoke of the plans he and Susan had for the future. Not in a regretful reflection of what could have been, but with a powerful conviction of what was yet to be.

It was weird.

Susan lay there barely cognizant, struggling for each breath, seemingly hours from death. Yet her husband stood inches away talking about future vacations, a kitchen remodel, and their retirement years as if the four of us were hanging out at a backyard barbeque.

While John and Susan had often spoken of their confidence in God’s ability to heal, this was different. He wasn’t talking about an assurance that she could be healed. He was describing his absolute certainty that she would be healed. He didn’t have an ounce of doubt. It was already a done deal.

Then he told us what had happened. That morning, while in prayer for Susan’s healing, he’d been overcome with a powerful sense of God’s presence and a deep conviction that God had answered his prayer. As he continued to pray, biblical passages proclaiming God’s protection and care flooded his mind. He felt as if God had physically reached down and touched him, whispering in his ear, “I’ve heard you. She’ll be okay.”

Brimming with confidence, he figured he’d arrived at the epitome of faith because he had absolute assurance of what he hoped for and complete certainty of what he had not yet seen.1He was as giddy as a prospector who’d just tapped into the mother lode.

I didn’t know what to say. Could it be that God was up to something big? Were we about to witness a miracle? Was John’s faith going to pull her back from the jaws of death?

I wasn’t so sure.

He was absolutely certain.

That night she breathed her last breath.

John was devastated. For years after Susan’s death, he limped along spiritually, disillusioned with God, prayer, and the impotence of faith.

But his spiritual meltdown had nothing to do with God letting him down. It had nothing to do with the promises of the Bible being hollow. It was the predictable result of having placed his trust in the fool’s gold of faith’s best known and most widely believed spiritual urban legend: the myth that if we have enough faith, we can do or fix anything.

Unfortunately, John’s concept of faith (what it was and how it worked) didn’t come from the Word of God; it came from the word on the street. He had banked on a set of assumptions and beliefs that simply weren’t true. And they had let him down.

The Word on the Street
The word on the street is that faith is a potent mixture of intellectual and emotional self-control that when properly harnessed can literally change outcomes through positive thinking and clear visualization.

It’s what successful people tout as the key to their achievements, survivors of great tragedies cite as the source of their endurance, televangelists credit with healing power, and motivational speakers make a sweet living espousing.

It’s why, when our team is five runs down with two outs in the ninth inning, we’re not supposed to think negatively. Instead, we’re supposed to hang tough, visualize a big inning. Because as long as we really believe we can win, there is a good chance we will.

This kind of hopeful thinking is more about faith in faith than faith in God. Yet it’s what many of us have been taught to believe God wants from us when we’re confronted with insurmountable odds.

Same with a medical crisis. Did the tests come back showing the cancer has metastasized? Don’t panic. It can be beat. Just think positively.

Or perhaps your son is a five-foot, two-inch freshman with dreams of playing in the NBA. Whatever you do, don’t discourage him. Who knows? It could happen. After all, nothing is impossible as long as he pursues his dreams with hard work and unwavering faith.

Unfortunately, this kind of hopeful thinking has nothing in common with what the Bible calls faith. It’s more about faith in faith than faith in God. Yet it’s what many of us have been taught to believe God wants from us when we’re confronted with insurmountable odds.

We’ve been told that for those who can muster it up, an all doubts-removed, count-it-as-done faith has the power to fix anything. It’s God’s great cure-all, a magic potion.

In fact, in some Christian circles, this kind of faith is said to have the power to actually manipulate the hand of God. I recently heard a TV preacher claim that God has to answer prayers of unwavering faith no matter what we ask for. As long as we have no doubt, he has no choice. It’s a law of the universe. Apparently it even trumps God’s sovereignty.

Though I’d hate to be the one to tell him so.

How the English Language Mucks Things Up
While faith is a concept deeply rooted in the Christian Scriptures, most of our modern ideas about it aren’t. Much of the blame can be placed on the way the original manuscripts of the New Testament have been translated into English.

It’s not that the translators are unskilled or deceptive. It’s simply that translating anything from one language to another is a difficult task, burdened by all the ancillary meanings and uses found in one language but not another.

A quick comparison of how we use the words faith, belief, and trust in modern-day English with how they were originally used in the Greek language of the New Testament can be eye opening. Let’s take a look to see what I mean.


For most of us, the word faith conjures up an image of confidence. It’s the opposite of fear and doubt. It’s often defined by our feelings as much as by anything else. That’s why most teaching on faith tends to focus on eradicating all fear, doubt, and negative thoughts. It’s also why “You gotta have faith” has come to mean “Think positively.”


On the other hand, the word belief usually conjures up an image of intellectual assent. We say we believe in something as long as we think that it’s probably true. And since our beliefs are thought to exist primarily between our ears, we’re not particularly puzzled when people claim to believe in something—say UFOs, Bigfoot, Darwinian evolution, creationism, even Jesus—but live as if they don’t. For most of us, beliefs are intellectual. Acting upon them is optional.

You can see this definition of belief in the way many of us approach evangelism. We tell the Jesus story to people and then ask them if they believe it. Those who say yes are immediately assured that they’re headed for heaven. After all, they’re “believers.” It doesn’t seem to matter that the Bible adds quite a few qualifiers beyond mere mental assent.2


In contrast to our use of faith and belief, when we use the word trust it almost always carries an assumption that there will be some sort of corresponding action. If we trust a person, it’s supposed to show up in our response. For instance, if the parent of a teenage girl says, “I trust you,” but won’t let her out of the house, we’d think that parent was speaking nonsense. There’s no question the daughter would.

Clearly, each of these three words carries a distinctly different meaning in the English language. But to the surprise of most Christians, almost every time we find one of these three words in our English New Testaments, each is a translation of the exact same Greek root word.3

That means that the Bible knows nothing of the sharp distinctions we make between faith, belief, and trust. Biblically, they not only overlap, but they are practically synonymous. To the writers of Scripture, our modern distinctions between faith, belief, and trust would seem quite strange and forced.

So, What Kind of Faith Does God Want?

The kind of faith the Bible advocates and God wants from us has far more to do with our actions than our feelings. In fact, biblical faith is so closely tied to actions of obedience that the Bible ridicules the very idea of someone claiming to have faith without acting upon it.4

God doesn’t care if we’ve mastered the art of positive thinking. He’s not impressed by the mental gymnastics of visualization. He doesn’t even insist that we eradicate all doubts and fears. In fact, more than once, he’s answered the prayers of people whose “faith” was so weak that when God said yes, they didn’t believe it.

When the first response to an answered prayer is shock and amazement, the people who offered that prayer certainly don’t fit the standard definition of having faith. Yet God answered anyway because their prayers fit his definition of faith. Their simple act of praying was an act of faith—they trusted God enough to do what he commanded, even though they were certain it wouldn’t work.

To better understand what biblical faith is and how it works, let’s take a look at the most famous faith passage in the Bible: Hebrews 11. Often called God’s Hall of Fame, it offers a lengthy list of examples, each one showing what God-pleasing faith looks like and what it produced.

The writer of Hebrews starts with Adam’s son Abel, then moves on to Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Moses, laying out a series of vignettes that describe their steps of faith and the great victories that followed.

Then, almost as if he is running out of steam (or his audience is running out of attention), the writer adds twelve more examples. But this time he offers only a name or a cryptic reference to the great victories their faith accomplished.

It’s an inspiring list. At first glance it seems to support the popular notion that faith rightly applied can conquer anything. It tells of kingdoms won, lions muzzled, flames quenched, weaknesses turned to strength, enemies routed, the dead raised. All in all, a pretty impressive résumé.

But the writer doesn’t stop there. He goes on.

But I warn you. What he said might mess with your head. It certainly messed with mine. After reciting a litany of victories, he suddenly switches gears and changes direction. Now he speaks of people whose faith led them down a different path—folks who were tortured, jeered, flogged, imprisoned, stoned, sawed in two, and put to death by the sword. He ends with a reminder that still others were rewarded with financial destitution, persecution, and mistreatment.

Then he writes these words: “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised.”6 In other words, these weren’t the faith rejects, the losers, the ones who couldn’t get it right. These were men and women whose faith was applauded by God. Yet their faith didn’t fix anything.

In some cases it made matters worse.


I guarantee you that no one taught my kids this side of faith in Sunday school. Imagine if they did. “Okay, children, today we’re going to learn how trusting and obeying God might get you torn in two, thrown into jail, hated by your friends, and force you to drive an old beater the rest of your life.”

That would thin the herd. It would certainly rile a few parents.

But it’s essentially what the Bible says that faith (at least the kind of faith that God commends) might do. It may lead us to victory. It may lead us to prison. Which it will be is his call—not ours.

Why Bother?

That raises an important question. If faith is primarily about trusting God enough to do what he says, and yet it won’t fix everything and sometimes will make matters worse, why bother?

One reason stands out above all others. It’s what God wants from us. He says so himself: “Without faith it is impossible to please God.”

Now, it seems to me that if God is really God, and not just some sort of mystical force, cosmic consultant, or favorite uncle in the sky, then knowing what he wants and doing it is a pretty important thing to pay attention to. Few of us would mess with our boss’s stated preferences. What kind of fool messes with God’s?

A thousand years from now, all the things we try so hard to fix with our positive thinking, visualization, and drive-out-all-doubt prayers won’t matter. The only thing that will matter is our awesome future and our face-to-face relationship with God.

Another reason to live by faith (even if it can’t fix all the problems we face) is that it does promise to fix our biggest problem and our biggest dilemma. What do we say and do when we stand before a holy and perfect God who knows every one of our secrets and all of our sins?

Honest now—what’s to keep us from becoming toast?

Frankly, nothing.

But that’s where the real fix-it power of biblical faith kicks in. Jesus promised that all who believe in him (remember that includes trusting him enough to actually follow and do what he says) will receive forgiveness and the gift of eternal life. A thousand years from now, all the things we try so hard to fix with our positive thinking, visualization, and drive-out-all-doubt prayers won’t matter. They’ll be but a distant memory, if they can be remembered at all. The only thing that will matter is our awesome future and our face-to-face relationship with God.

God’s GPS System

There’s one more benefit to a proper understanding of biblical faith. Biblical faith gives us something that all the positive thinking and visualization in the world can’t provide. It gives us a life map, something we can depend on to always take us exactly where God wants us to go.

Admittedly, it’s not always an easy map to follow. It takes time, experience, and an occasional leap into the dark to master. It can be frustrating—and scary at times. But in the end, for those who are led by it, it’s a trusty guide, guaranteed to always take us where we need to be.

In many ways the adventure of learning to live by biblical faith is a lot like my love/hate relationship with the mapping software on my GPS unit. Let me explain.

I’m a geographical moron. My wife has no idea how I get home after traveling to speak somewhere. She’s always surprised to see me walk through the front door.

My problem is twofold. First, I’m often in two places at once, mentally. I call it multitasking. My family and friends call it something else. But the end result is that I can be completely oblivious to my surroundings. And when that happens, I literally don’t know where I am. I may think I do, but I don’t, mainly because I haven’t been paying attention.

My second problem is an absolute lack of an internal sense of direction. Without the Pacific Ocean and the mountains as bench-marks, I have no idea which direction is north, south, east, or west. That means that along with not knowing where I am, I often don’t know where I’m heading.

Put those two together and you have a recipe for search-and-rescue. But fortunately (or so you would think), I live in a day when GPS is within reach of the common man.

Yet, despite the promise that an affordable GPS unit has to offer, there is one frustrating problem. The pesky voice in my Garmin often tells me to turn the wrong way.

My first response is always a quick flash of annoyance at the company that makes the mapping software. I wonder why they can’t get it right. I know there are lots of streets they have to include, but come on. That’s what I paid for. And I’m not talking about thinking I should turn left when it says to turn right. I’m talking about those times when I know I should turn left.

To make matters worse, as I make the turn that I know I should make, the little lady in the box starts nagging me. In a mildly disgusted tone, she repeats over and over, “Recalculating. Recalculating.”

Faith is not a skill we master. It’s not an impenetrable shield that protects us from life’s hardships and trials. It’s not a magic potion that removes every mess. It’s a map we follow.

It’s enough to make me reach over to hit the Off button. But before I do, I’m usually struck with a haunting realization. I’ve been certain I was right before—but somehow ended up wrong. And despite the fact that my GPS sometimes seems unaware of a street or two and occasionally takes me on a circuitous route, it’s always found a way to get me where I want to go.

But doggone it, this time I know I’m right. I’m absolutely certain. I don’t care how many times she spouts off, “Recalculating.” She’s wrong.

So, what do I do?

This is, in essence, a crisis of faith. I have a choice to make. Will I place my trust in my own sense of direction, knowing that this time my not-so-trusty GPS has gotten it all wrong? Or will I place my faith in the little box and turn right, despite my certainty that it’s directing me far from where I want to go?

You probably know the answer. Based on my past experiences, I’ve learned to shrug my shoulders and do what the unit says. So I reluctantly make a turn that makes no sense tome. As I do, my pulse quickens and my stomach churns. My mind fills with images of speaking engagements lost and flights missed.

I turn anyway.

And that’s the reason that I always surprise my wife when I walk in the front door. Somehow east magically turns into west and the “wrong” route gets me there anyway.

Go figure.
Once I arrive at my destination, it really doesn’t matter what doubts or concerns I had along the way. As long as I follow the directions or quickly get back on track after a little “recalculating,” I always end up where I need to be.

That’s exactly how biblical faith works. When rightly understood and applied, it doesn’t matter how many doubts we have. It doesn’t even matter if we’re convinced that all is lost. Ultimately all that matters is whether we have enough faith (maybe just a mustard seed’s worth) to follow God’s instructions. Those who do, get where they’re supposed to go. Those who don’t, end up lost somewhere far from home.

Faith is not a skill we master. It’s not an impenetrable shield that protects us from life’s hardships and trials. It’s not a magic potion that removes every mess. It’s a map we follow.

It’s designed to guide us on a path called righteousness. Along the way, it doesn’t promise to fix every flat tire. It won’t reroute us around every traffic jam. It won’t even stop the road rage of the crazy guy we cut off at the merge.

But it will take us exactly where God wants us to go. And isn’t that where we want to be?


They were stoned; they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground. These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. HEBREWS 11:37–40

Title: Ten Dumb Things Smart Christians Believe
Author: Larry Osborne
Pages: 224
Publisher: Multnomah Books (April 14, 2009)
Genre: Non-Fiction / Christian Living
Here's a review of the book.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Choose Your
Rut Carefully

Over the years, I have amassed a random collection sermon fodder on my computer in the form of ponderable questions, goofy jokes & funny pictures. Many of those pictures are of road signs. To the annoyance of friends and family alike, I have stopped the car in the most inconvenient places to get a snapshot of a random sign...It’s a quirky hobby, I know, but I have fun with it.

Road signs can tell us a lot...

Like the one welcoming you to Kettle Falls, Washington, the home of “1255 friendly people and one grouch.”

After Hurricane Gustav hit the Louisiana coast, I took a mission team down to help with cleanup efforts. There was a petrol shortage, so when you could find fuel, you stopped. I enjoyed taking a picture of our team in front of a service station's sign that proudly proclaimed, “WE’VE GOT GAS!”

Here’s a warning sign found along Oregon’s winding coast, “Emergency stopping only. Whale watching is not an emergency. Keep driving.” 

One of my favorite road signs is not one that I’ve seen, but I have read about! Pastor Ray Stedman described this sign as he crossed the border into Alaska:

“Choose your rut carefully.
You’ll be in it for the next two hundred miles.”

The same can be said about life and for many a church. Obviously, the preference is to avoid the ruts altogether...but sometimes we find ourselves there. Your choices will lead you to a destination... Many times, we make just enough conscious decision about our lives to find a relatively comfortable place and then go on autopilot... We don't really live, we just exist in a rut.

Churches are no different. Over the next few chapters of The Church Awakening, Swindoll offers insight into the enemy’s strategies for keeping the church distracted, off-track, and in a rut. I hope to walk through these insights with you, and we’ll also look at the early church as an inspired example for our success!

Before we get to those remedies, let's think a bit more about the challenges we face.

Swindoll’s assessment of the state of affairs in today’s church includes a warning of several distinct problems:
  • uncertainty of purpose
  • blurred vision
fuzzy priorities

  • compromised values
replacing volunteerism with professionalism
The church can succumb to these subtleties and find itself painfully dysfunctional - off track and stuck in a rut. The church was never meant to be a “professional organization.” We’ll let the world have all of those. The church is not a slick, efficient corporation with a cross stuck on its roof. It is a ministry. 
We do not look to the government for support or to the state for direction.
We do not look to Wall Street for financial suggestions. We have one Head, the Lord Jesus Christ. We do not rely on any earthly organization or some rich individual to sustain the ministry. The church is a spiritual entity, built up and supported by its Founder, Jesus, who promised to build His church. (29)

John Piper, in his book Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, says that “We pastors are being killed by the professionalizing of the pastoral ministry. The mentality of the professional is not the mentality of the prophet. It is not the mentality of the slave of Christ. Our business deny ourselves and take up a blood-spattered cross daily.” (Luke 9:23)

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Apologia pro Morta Sua

Dr. Hershael York

Powerful message by Dr. York delivered in the Sept. 30, 2010 Chapel service at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky.

Ray Stedman has long been one of my favorite expositors... Today's devotional from his archived library was a great reminder for us that God's process of working in our lives is often different than what we might expect. We pray for one thing.. and find ourselves shocked when God answers it, but answers in a way that is totally foreign to our expectation. My prayer for you, and for me today is that we would be open to allow God to work in our lives to transform whatever ways He chooses.

Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then will I be blameless, innocent of great transgression (Psalm 19:12b-13).

Forgive my hidden faults. Is that your prayer? Do you know what will happen when you pray that way? You might think that God will take a sponge and wipe around inside you so you will not even know what those hidden faults were. But God does not do that. His way of dealing with hidden faults is either to send somebody to point them out to you or to bring them out through some circumstance in which you are suddenly confronted with what you have done or said and you find that it is ugly and you do not like it. That is the way God cleanses us from hidden faults. He opens up the secret places.

Usually he does it through other people because, as God well knows, we cannot see ourselves, but other people can see us. These faults are hidden to us but not to others. They see them very plainly. And we can see their hidden faults better than they can. You know that you can see the faults of somebody you are thinking about right now better than that person can. You say, I don't see how that person can be so blind. Someone is thinking that very same way about you. That is why it is always proper to say, Lord, cleanse me from hidden faults. Help me to see myself through the eyes of a friend who loves me enough to tell me the truth.

And then, Keep me from willful sins. Willful sins are those in which you are confident that you have what it takes to do what God wants. Self-confidence is presumption. God never asks us to do anything on that basis. If we depend upon ourselves, we are acting presumptuously, and any activity that stems from self-confidence is a presumptuous sin. Whatsoever is not of faith is sin. For me to act as though there is anything that I can contribute is to be guilty of this kind of sin. The cure for this is dependence upon the activity of God in you as a believer. So David is praying, Lord, let me realize that without You I can do nothing. Help me to depend upon You to work through me. Then I will be blameless and innocent of great transgression.

Lord You speak to me through the world You have made and the Word You have spoken. Give me a teachable heart.

Life Application: What are two crucial areas for our lives that need exposure? Are we open to praying about them and to allowing God to answer our prayers in His way?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Back to the Future
of the Church!

(noun) \ri-ˈnü-əl,\

1) the act of renewing

to restore or replenish: to renew a stock of goods.

3) to make, say, or do again.

4) to revive; reestablish.

4) to recover (youth, strength, etc.).

6) to restore to a former state; make new or as if new again.

The mandate of Chuck Swindoll’s book, The Church Awakening is “Renewal”. He calls for an evaluation of the present state of the church and a reclaiming of the intention, mission, and heart of the church.

Swindoll asserts that the church is attempting to market Jesus while following a business paradigm rather than being the spiritual entity that God intended. While it is inevitable that healthy churches will grow...bigger churches don’t necessarily mean better churches. Swindoll points out that there must be a strong commitment to doing what the Bible says, and not doing what people want, not doing what other churches are doing (p. 9).

The book challenges modern believers to go back to the early church to discover vital truths about the mission and mandate of Christ.

Jesus told Peter that “I will build my church” and that the gates of Hades will prevail against it. His church will not be overcome, eroded or erased by the powers of darkness. Without question, Jesus is the Architect, the Originator and He alone is the Head of the church. Swindoll sternly warns us to remember that the church is not a business. Our activity should be centered on Christ Jesus, not calculations... on the savior, not our strategic plans!

Looking back to the early church helps us re-establish a connection with the original intent. We must begin with Jesus’ own declaration about the future of His church:

...I will build my church,
and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
~ MATTHEW 16:18

Phillip Jensen of Matthias Media writes about this passage saying, “This is a momentous statement, for it describes Jesus' program for the future.”

 At this point in Matthew's Gospel, the storm clouds are gathering. In the very next paragraph Jesus tells his disciples for the first time about the violent death that awaits him. But Jesus' vision for the future goes beyond his death. The big plan is to build his church—to gather his people from all over the world to himself.

In the rest of the New Testament, we see this grand purpose begin to be realized. As the disciples scatter throughout the Roman Empire, they take the gospel of Jesus with them. They preach it, and churches are planted.

Jesus is still building His church and we must submit to Him and His plan if our desire is to be part of the prevailing church!

Looking back to the early church gives us a glimpse into the future of the church!

Thursday, October 07, 2010


I'll be out of town over the weekend, but I'll be back on Monday with more commentary on Swindoll's The Church Awakening. On Tuesday, I issued a challenge in mentioning a prayer strategy using the Valley of Vision! so I thought I'd leave you with a wonderful puritan prayer for the weekend! Pray it as your own...notice the richness of the prayer and the depth of Biblical insight.

I hope that you will get a copy of the book and join me in this amazing discipline of praying these prayers 3 times daily. Until you get a copy of the book, you can find more HERE!


Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly, Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision, where I live in the depths but see Thee in the heights; hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold Thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox that the way down is the way up, that to be low is to be high, that the broken heart is the healed heart, that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit, that the repenting soul is the victorious soul, that to have nothing is to possess all, that to bear the cross is to wear the crown, that to give is to receive, that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells, and the deeper the wells the brighter Thy stars shine; let me find Thy light in my darkness, Thy life in my death, Thy joy in my sorrow, Thy grace in my sin, Thy riches in my poverty, Thy glory in my valley.

Have a wonderful weekend and spend time with those you love... INCLUDING THE LORD JESUS CHRIST! Blessings.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010


Comedian Jeff Foxworthy is most famously known for taking a derogatory word, “redneck” and celebrating it by poking fun at stereotypical redneck behavior, even cajoling his listeners to evaluate their own quirky behaviors. He defines “redneck” as a glorious absence of sophistication and in his 1993 comedy album
You Might Be a Redneck If... brought the term into the mainstream.

As I continue to work through Chuck Swindoll’s “The Church Awakening”, I was reminded of a dangerous attitude that exists in the church. An attitude that has led the church to drift from its mission, its mandate, and its effectiveness. That attitude - stubborn inflexibility!

Today we consider the third and final imperative that Swindoll touts as essential for a church awakening...


Wise, essential changes must occur
to counteract any sign of erosion!

In the Old Testament, God’s frustration is clearly seen as the people of God often resisted His leading. Take for example Exodus 32.

And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.-- Exodus 32: 9-10 (KJV)

The adjective "stiff-necked" was coined by William Tyndale for his 1526 translation of the Acts of the Apostles (7: 51), but the phrase "stiffnecked people" (sans hyphen) first appears here, and it will be applied again and again to the obstreperous Israelites.

Their necks are called "stiff" because they won't bend to God's will, in this case his commandment against graven images. As he sees the Israelites eat, drink, and make merry in the company of their new golden god, Yahweh cuts short his conference with Moses and vows to wipe out the entire group.

While resisting God is not new, it certainly is prevalent in today’s church. Being stiff-necked is nothing more than resisting the Spirit of God. Sometimes it comes because of:

Arrogance (I know better than God)

  • Obstinance (I don’t care what God wants)

  • Disobedience (I will not do what God wants)

  • Fear (I am scared of what God wants)

  • Unbelief (I don’t trust what God want)

The church must be flexible and willing to make changes in order to fight against the erosion that has occured. Here are a few necessary ingredients to fighting erosion:

  • Church leaders must have pliable hearts in the hands of God. 

  • Church members must embrace change as good and as necessary (so long as those changes are Biblical and Spirit-led)

  • Agendas must be laid aside

  • Prayer must be primary

  • Humility will be evident
Change is never easy when erosion has occured in the church, but it is essential!

So what does all of this have to do with Jeff Foxworthy? Mike Palmer, a pastor and friend, first brought this idea of "You might be stiff-necked" to me. There’s definitely a sermon series there! Are you resisting the Spirit of God? Are you standing in the way of His will? If might just be...

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Valley of Vision is an great Puritan prayer book. It has meant a great deal to me over the years as material for meditation and encouragement... My friend, Ryan Whitley posted the following at his blog, Just One More! Enjoy!

Joe Horn, lead pastor of Redeemer Fellowship in Saint Charles, Illinois, has developed a schedule of The Valley of Vision for his personal use.

Horn writes, I rearranged the prayers into 3 daily readings, five days a week, and scheduled them to be read/prayed at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm Monday through Friday. This method took me through the entire Valley of Vision in 13 weeks, only repeating two prayers one time.

To stay on top of the discipline I used the calendar/alarm feature on my phone to alert me when it was time to pray (otherwise I would forget), and with those alerts I would stop whatever I was doing, pull out The Valley of Vision, spend a moment in prayer with the assigned reading, and then return to work. If I was in a meeting, I would excuse myself, step outside or even hit the washroom, and meet with God. Occasionally I found myself in a situation where I simply had to wait before I could get away, but most of the time I could slip away without a problem.

I found that when using this schedule, my days were rich with an awareness of God’s grace, and I was encouraged me to look to God throughout the day in a new way. I looked forward to these appointments/interruptions and my prayer life is better because of it.

I thought others might benefit from the exercise, so I asked Brian Malcolm to design a printable version for download. He was able to fit the entire schedule onto one page so you can easily print it and tuck or tape it inside your own copy of Valley of Vision. He has created versions for the leather bound edition, as well as the paperback (page numbers and sizes are different).

You should consider this guide and approach to prayer as one tool to help you seek God and maintain a posture of prayer throughout the day. It should not be the totality of your prayer life. Think of this as a means of fueling your meditation on Scripture, dependency on the gospel, and exercise of faith in and love for Jesus. I have used this schedule a few times now and have been richly rewarded. I hope it’s a blessing to you as well.

To download the Walking Through The Valley of Vision prayer guide, head over to its dedicated page here.

If you don’t already have one, you can order your copy of The Valley of Vision here (leather), or here (paperback).

I am inviting you to join me on this Valley of Vision journey for the last three months of 2010. Come and join me on this journey. It’s going to be awesome. You can do it. Let’s do it together.

Monday, October 04, 2010


I’ve been wrestling with how to best blog about this book, The Church Awakening: An Urgent Call for Renewal by Chuck Swindoll. I will probably go back later and try to present more of a chapter by chapter review and discussion...but for now, I am intrigued with these three imperatives that Swindoll says that all churches should examine and apply.

1) Clear, Biblical thinking must override secular planning and a corporate mentality!

2) Studied, accurate decisions must originate from God's Word, not human opinions.

3) Wise, essential changes must occur to counteract any sign of erosion.

Today, I want to offer insights into Biblical decisions.

Studied, accurate decisions must originate from God's Word, not human opinions. STAY BIBLICAL!

There is a thought-provoking scene in Lewis Carroll’s classic children’s tale, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Young Alice comes to a fork in the road and asks the Cheshire Cat which direction she should take.

"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to", said the Cat.
"I don’t much care where" – said Alice.
"Then it doesn’t matter which way you walk", said the Cat.

Decision-making is a critical part of life... Every decision that we make steers the course of our lives. Ultimately, our lives are built by the composite of all of our choices. Taking God’s will and His word into account when making decisions is imperative if we are interested in heading in the right direction... Too often, Christians (and Churches) make decisions based on opinion, expediency, past experiences, or even to avoid conflict. Many times, these decisions are made without seeking God.

Consider Scripture’s warnings...

The Israelites gathered data (vv. 7-14), but they missed a crucial step in the process. “The men of Israel…did not inquire of the Lord” (v. 14). Many years later, James spoke to this very same issue when he wrote, “[Y]ou ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that” (James 4:15).

In Decision Making by the Book, Haddon Robinson comments on James’ statement: “James is not against making plans…he is not taking a cheap shot at charts or making an argument against commitments…. What James warns us about is that our freedom to make plans is not a license to live free from God. To come to that conclusion would be arrogant.” In fact, Robinson asserts, “The phrase, ‘If it is the Lord’s will,’ ought to infect our thinking. It ought to be a standard part of our vocabulary.”

So how do you make decisions? And more importantly, how Biblical is your decision making process? Mary Fairchild, author and contributor offers a logical process for making Biblical Decisions. Read her contribution here:

Biblical Decision Making Steps

Mary Fairchild,

1. Begin with prayer. Frame your attitude into one of trust and obedience as you commit the decision to prayer. There's no reason to be fearful in decision making when you are secure in the knowledge that God has your best interest in mind. Jeremiah 29:11 
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (NIV) 

2. Define the decision. Ask yourself if the decision involves a moral or non-moral area. It is actually a little easier to discern the will of God in moral areas because most of the time you will find clear direction in God's Word. If God has already revealed his will in Scripture, your only response is to obey. Non-moral areas still require the application of biblical principles, however, sometimes the direction is harder to distinguish. Psalm 119:105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path. (NIV) 

3. Be ready to accept and obey God's answer. It's unlikely that God will reveal his plan if he knows already that you won't obey. It is absolutely essential that your will be completely submitted to God's. When your will is humbly and fully submitted to the Master, you can have confidence that he will illuminate your path. Proverbs 3:5-6 
Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 
Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (NLT) 

4. Exercise faith. Remember too, that decision making is a process that takes time. You may have to resubmit your will over and over again to God throughout the process. Then by faith, which pleases God, trust him with a confident heart that he will reveal his will. Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (NIV) 

5. Seek concrete direction. Begin investigating, evaluating and gathering information. Find out what the Bible says about the situation? Gain practical and personal information that relates to the decision, and begin writing down what you learn. 

6. Obtain counsel. In difficult decisions it's wise to get spiritual and practical counsel from the godly leaders in your life. A pastor, elder, parent, or simply a mature believer can often contribute important insight, answer questions, remove doubts and confirm inclinations. Make sure to choose individuals who will offer sound biblical advice and not just say what you want to hear. Proverbs 15:22 Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. (NIV) 

7. Make a list. First write down the priorities you believe God would have in your situation. These are not the things that are important to you, but rather the things that are most important to God in this decision. Will the outcome of your decision draw you closer to God? Will it glorify him in your life? How will it impact those around you? 

8. Weigh the decision. Make a list of the pros and cons connected with the decision. You may find that something on your list clearly violates the revealed will of God in his Word. If so, you have your answer. This is not his will. If not, then you now have a realistic picture of your options to help you make a responsible decision. 

9. Choose your spiritual priorities. By this time you should have enough information to establish your spiritual priorities as they relate to the decision. Ask yourself which decision best satisfies those priorities? If more than one option will fulfill your established priorities, then choose the one which is your strongest desire! Sometimes God gives you a choice. In this case there is no right and wrong decision, but rather a freedom from God to choose, based on your preferences. Both options are within God's perfect will for your life and both will lead to the fulfillment of God's purpose for your life. 

10. Act on your decision. If you have arrived at your decision with the sincere intention of pleasing the heart of God, incorporating biblical principles and wise counsel, you can proceed with confidence knowing that God will work out his purposes through your decision. Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (NIV)
The Church is not a Business

The culture around us is consumed and concerned with all sorts of physical things. Want proof? Watch television advertising for any length of time and you’ll see that big bucks are being spent to offer you answers to to your every need. They offer a scratch to a deep itch...and sadly, sometimes we don’t have the itch until we see their brand of scratcher.

Whether you consciously thought it or not... the culture can get you to ask questions or make declarations about yourself. 

  • “Am I too fat?”
  • "Is my hair too gray or too thin?” 

  • “Would I look better in different clothes?”
  • “I DO deserve a new car / a vacation / better skin! (and on and on it goes)

  • “If I just had ______(you fill in the blank), then my life would be meaningful / complete!

We find ourselves under immense pressure to get more, have more, and do more? Everything looks and sounds great. . .until the bills come rolling in or the new wears off or we simply find that miracle cure or magic bullet just didn’t quite deliver as promised... and we are left with an empty ache.

At times, the world is rat race; fighting for money, possessions, and physical "things". Scripture tells believers to go a different way...It is written: "Love not the world nor the things of the world." The Bible tells us to think spiritually! To recognize that what we can SEE with our eyes is not all that there is. When you are spiritually minded none of the above-mentioned things matter. 

While reading Chuck Swindoll’s newest book, The Church Awakening this weekend, I began to ponder this idea of THINKING SPIRITUALLY. Obviously this principle applies to individuals, but to congregations as well! Churches are buying wholesale into this same kind of worldly thinking!

Swindoll asserts that clear, Biblical thinking must override secular planning and a corporate mentality! In short, we must return to a clear understanding that

Author and columnist Keith Drury offers keen insight into the problem with thinking of the church as corporate...below are his thoughts from a recent article.
For 25 years the field of “Church Leadership” has taken its signals from business. We started searching for excellence, in the 1980’s and are still scrambling be good one minute managers as we go from good to great while learning to cope with a flat world, the long tail all the time wearing the six thinking hats.

The trouble is the church is not a business. It ought to be run with sound financial practices and we ought to be efficient and care about effectiveness, but there are crucial differences between business and the church. We have to make a “translation” of these nifty business fads before we can bring them over into the church. Here are a few of these differences to get your thinking started:

1. Our bottom line is foggier.

The church’s bottom line is not money but ministry. So how is your church doing? Hard question, right? If producing a higher stock price and a generous dividend for our stockholders were all we had to do we’d be better off. Even if our denominational statistical reports could measure effectiveness we’d be just peachy. But statistics can’t do a complete job. Where do you list the 14 hours you just spent in the hospital with a family while their son was going through open heart surgery. Or where will you list the “productivity effectiveness” of spending the entire next day arranging his funeral after the operation failed? In the church we defend such “wasted” time by saying we were not “making money” but “making ministry.” Ministry is our bottom line. And ministry is a lot foggier to measure than money.

2. Our leadership is more nuanced.

In business you simply get “the wrong people off the bus and the right people on.” In the church, we sometimes work with the “wrong people” on purpose. We take ordinary fishermen and turn them into something better. We seldom dump the dullards in exchange for the bright people from Jerusalem. In the church power is diffused among a hundred people not concentrated into the hands of the company president or management. Our leaders work with the people they have. “Headhunting” by swiping “top notch producers” from other churches is frowned upon (other than doing so for paid staff). For the church “the competition” is treated as brothers, not as competing entities to be run out of business. Our leaders build consensus, take their time, and know exactly how much of the future to introduce into the present. And we do it tenderly and carefully because the way we do it is as much of our bottom line as what we do.

3. Our pay is mostly intangible.

While paid staff can be motivated by money the workers in the church mostly receive an intangible salary: things a sense of meaning, knowing I’m doing a good thing, and feeling a part of something worthwhile or pleasing the Lord. While “intangibles salaries” are receiving more attention in the business world (recently) they have always been the primary payroll in the church. We work with volunteers who, well, volunteer. We can’t easily change results by approving a new salaries budget. For us, a far more complex system of rewards takes years of calibration and emphasis to get new results.

4. Our workers are our bosses.

Some pastors might wish they were CEOs who could summarily fire laity who were dragging their feet on needed changes. Most of us can’t get rid of workers so easily. Dealing with an entrenched union is apple pie next to dealing with entrenched church members. Which business has a “pastoral vote” where the workers decide if they’ll keep the CEO another term? See? For most Church leaders we have the far-more-complicated task of leading the very volunteers who vote on their retention. Simplistic business solutions like “find them and fire them” just don’t come over into the church. The person they “find and fire” in those situations will likely be us!

5. Our means can be our ends.

Our mission is not to make money but spend and invest it... in the Kingdom! In the church we intend to make disciples out of people then guide those believers into spiritual maturity while accomplishing evangelism, discipleship, fellowship, worship and service. These are our mission, not a means to some other mission like making a profit. Business types who get on our boards need to be reminded that we have a different bottom line. Youth ministry is not “a waste of time because it doesn’t produce more tithers” to us—it is something we do for itself, not for profit or greater income. In the church our outcomes are our inputs-- being the church is the bottom line.
There are more of course, but these five differences are enough to get us started in remembering that bringing over into the church the most recent sexy business book usually requires considerable “translation.”

I should, however, point out one recent encouraging trend among business writers. They are increasingly recognizing this difference. For the last five years churches (and Christian colleges like mine) have swooned over Jim Collins’ Good to Great as if it had apostolic authority in guiding ministry success. Recently Jim Collins published a little-known monograph admitting many simple business truisms don’t “come over.” In his overpriced and under developed pamphlet Good to Great—Social Sectors he tells stories of how pastors and other non-profit leaders argued with him—and how he lost these arguments. His monograph is his mea culpa or at least a whopping ten dollar footnote to his popular and helpful work Good to Great. We in churches and the non-profit world have been doing our own translation of business books for decades. Perhaps some of the writers are going to help in the future?

Friday, October 01, 2010



I'm reading a great new book by Chuck Swindoll entitled, The Church Awakening. I've long been a fan of the wit, wisdom, and spiritual insights that he offers in his far, he has not disappointed with this new offering!

In THE CHURCH AWAKENING, Charles Swindoll discusses the challenges, struggles, and priorities of the church in the twenty-first century. He reveals the problems inherent in the entertainment-based postmodern church and shows how a return to biblical teaching will restore its strength and impact.

Now being replaced by a feel-good message instead of what Christians need to know to stand strong in a world that's lost its way--Swindoll exposes the problems of--and solutions for--the postmodern evangelical church. Just as he opened readers' eyes with his bold statements in The Grace Awakening, now he offers a straightforward volume revealing how to reestablish a life-altering church with Christ as Lord and Master. Illuminating and empowering, THE CHURCH AWAKENING will ignite a revolution in the way Christians "do church" for years to come.

Three imperatives that ALL churches should examine and apply!

1) Clear, Biblical thinking must override secular planning and a corporate mentality!

2) Studied, accurate decisions must originate from God's Word, not human opinions.

3) Wise, essential changes must occur to counteract any sign of erosion.

Over the next several days, I want to offer some insights to these principles. For now, I simply offer this challenge to church leaders and church-goers alike...

May we continually devote ourselves to that which is essential... the apostles' teaching, and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer (Acts 2:42)

May we become passionate about doing God's work God's way!

May we come to recognize that the Church is a spiritual enterprise and not a corporation, a business, a structured organization, a set of rules, regulations or by-laws! The Church is the Body and Bride of Christ!

May we recognize the ways in which we have drifted from the Church's original intent... and may we have the courage and passion to return!