EDITOR”S NOTE–This week we are fortunate to have Deborah Ann Belka as a guest author. I encountered Deborah when I linked to her post last week on Bloggingmeetup. I wanted to share a post of hers each day this week. She writes beautifully about discovering our true identity in Christ. You may remember that the sole purpose of my blog is to help us all know, understand, believe and live out of our true identity in Christ. Many of my posts focus on those four goals. Deborah Ann captures the pure essence of what our true identity in Christ is in her poetry. I wanted to share her thoughts with all of you. I know you will be blessed. You can read more of Deborah’s writing on her blog at Poetry by Deborah Ann
Who am I in Christ?
By Deborah Ann Belka
I am fearfully
and wonderfully made
I am His new creation
I am predestined
I am chosen
I am adopted
I am a son of God
I am God’s child
I am a child of light
I am a child of day
I am God’s bride
I am God’s clay
I am God’s future
I am God’s hope
I am alive to God
I am destined
I am called
©2013 by Deborah Ann Bulka
I was there. Really.
I saw Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome when they came to Jesus’ grave and discovered that he was not there. Really. I did. Continue reading
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16
We have an overwhelming tendency to complicate simple things. We have all heard the K.I.S.S. principle, but we seldom apply it. James Madison, our fourth President, warned against creating laws “so voluminous that they cannot be read, or so incoherent that they can not be understood.”¹
I guess our lawmakers were on the campaign trail or a fact-finding junket in Maui when Madison said that.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is so simple a child can understand it. When we’re talking about the Gospel to folks, or even to each other, we don’t have to explain justification or sanctification or election or the Trinity or grace. The best Gospel we can ever preach is the one we live out. That sermon will preach clearer and simpler than any testimony we could share with words.
Our Daily Bread devotional for April 10, 2013, Keep It Simple, by Dave Egner, was the inspiration for this devotional today on For His Glory
No. That’s not a misprint. I wish all of you were dead. WAIT! Before you unsubscribe to my blog in disgust, please keep reading.
By John Ed Mathison
John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
Editor’s Note: This post appeared today, Thursday, December 27, 2012, on John Ed Mathison’s Leadership Ministries blog.
We close out 2012 with our attention on the fiscal cliff. I don’t understand all the dynamics of this, but I do have the image in mind of a cliff and the potential of going over it.
I don’t know if Congress will do anything to avoid it. It seems to me like sensible people Continue reading
By Helen Murray
Blogger at Are We Nearly There Yet?
‘…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.’
Philippians 1:6 NIV
Of course you do. Well, I’m wanting to tell you a couple of things this morning. Continue reading
By T.A. McMahon,
Co-founder of The Berean Call
This is the first part of a three-part series examining the explosion of “seeker-friendly” churches in the United States.¹
Author’s note: The state of the modern church has bothered me for several years. I am watching the “church’s” impact disintegrate into an ineffective, God-neglecting institution apparently, to me, more interested in marketing strategies than discipling.
The church’s purpose is not to save the lost. That is God’s job. The purpose of the true church of Jesus Christ, the Bride of Christ, is to train and equip the saints, who then go out and win souls for Christ.
In my view, the modern church, not the Bride of Christ, has lost its way and its true purpose. I’m reading lots of pastors and other church history authorities who are writing the same message.
Read Mr. McMahon’s article below and see if you agree with me.
The “seeker-friendly,” or “seeker-sensitive,” movement currently taking a host of evangelical churches by storm is an approach to evangelizing through application of the latest marketing techniques.
Typically, it begins with a survey of the lost (referred to by a leading church in this trend as the “unchurched,” or “unchurched Harry and Mary”). This survey questions the unchurched about the things their nearby place of worship might offer that would motivate them to attend. Results of the questionnaire indicate areas of potential changes in the church’s operations and services that would be effective to attract the unchurched, keep them attending, and win them to Christ. Those who have developed this marketing approach guarantee the growth of the churches that conscientiously follow their proven methods. Practically speaking, it works!
This (the “seeker-friendly” phenomenon) is a redefining of the leadership of the church, along lines that appear to me to be far more entrepreneurial than biblical. This is importing into the church the cultural success patterns, looking at corporate America, looking at successful CEOs, looking at successful businesses, everything from Ben and Jerry’s to Microsoft and trying to find the triggers, trying to find the avenues, trying to find the access, the hot buttons that allow them to sell their product to the degree that they do and to be so successful in corporation life. Phil Johnson, Executive Director of Grace To You Ministries.
Two Seeker Churches
Two churches are seen as models for this movement: Willow Creek Community Church (near Chicago), pastored by Bill Hybels, and Saddleback Valley Community Church (south of Los Angeles), pastored by Rick Warren. Their influence is stunning. Willow Creek has formed its own association of churches, with 9,500 members. Last year, 100,000 church lead-ers attended at least one Willow Creek leadership conference. More than 250,000 pastors and church leaders from over 125 countries have attended Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Church seminars. More than 60,000 pastors subscribe to his weekly email newsletter.
We visited Willow Creek Community Church not too long ago, and it seems to have spared no expense in its mission to attract the masses. Looking past the swans gliding across a mirror lake, one sees what could be mistaken for a corporate headquarters or a very upscale shopping mall. Just off the sanctuary is a large bookstore and an extensive eating area supplied by a food court with five different vendors. A jumbotron screen allows an overflow crowd or those enjoying a meal to view the proceedings in the main sanctuary. The sanctuary itself is spacious and high tech, complete with three large screens and state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems for multimedia, drama, and musical presentations.
While impressive, Willow Creek is not unique among mega-churches with a reach-the-lost-through-whatever-turns-them-on mindset. Mega-churches across the country have added bowling alleys, NBA regulation basketball courts with bleachers, exercise gyms and spas, locker rooms, auditoriums for concerts and dramatic productions, and Starbucks and McDonald’s franchises—all for the furtherance of the gospel . . .or so it is claimed.
Although it’s true that such churches are packing them in, that’s not the whole story in evaluating the success of this latest trend in “doing church.”
Seeker Churches’ Goal
The stated goal of seeker-friendly churches is reaching the lost. Though biblical and praiseworthy, the same cannot be said for the methods used in attempting to achieve that goal. Let’s begin with marketing as a tactic for reaching the lost. Fundamentally, marketing has to do with profiling consumers, ascertaining what their “felt needs” are, and then fashioning one’s product (or its image) to appeal to the targeted customer’s desires.
The hoped-for result is that the consumer buys or “buys into” the product. George Barna, whom Christianity Today calls “the church’s guru of growth,” claims that such an approach is essential for the church in our market-driven society. Evangelical church-growth leaders are adamant that the marketing approach can be applied–and they have employed it–without compromising the gospel. Really?
First of all, the gospel and, more significantly, the person of Jesus Christ do not fit into any marketing strategy. They are not “products” to be “sold.” They cannot be refashioned or image-adjusted to appeal to the felt needs of our consumer-happy culture. Any attempt to do so compromises to some degree the truth of who Christ is and what He has done for us . For example, if the lost are considered consumers and a basic marketing “commandment” says that the customer must reign supreme, then whatever may be offensive to the lost must be discarded, revamped, or downplayed.
Scripture tells us clearly that the message of the Cross is “foolishness to them that are perishing” and that Christ himself is a “rock of offense” (1 Cor:1:18; 1 Pt 2:8). Some seeker-friendly churches, therefore, seek to avoid this “negative aspect” by making the temporal benefits of becoming a Christian their chief selling point. Although that appeals to our gratification-oriented generation, it is neither the gospel nor the goal of a believer’s life in Christ.
Appealing To The Flesh
Secondly, if you want to attract the lost on the basis of what might interest them, for the most part you will be appealing to and accommodating their flesh. Wittingly or unwittingly, that seems to be the standard operating procedure of seeker-friendly churches. They mimic what’s popular in our culture: top-forty and performance-style music, theatrical productions, stimulating multi-media presentations, and thirty-minutes-or-less positive messages. The latter, more often than not, are topical, therapeutic, and centered in self-fulfillment–how the Lord can meet one’s needs and help solve one’s problems.
Those concerns may be lost on increasing numbers of evangelical pastors but, ironically, not on some secular observers. In his perceptive book This Little Church Went to Market , Pastor Gary Gilley notes that the professional marketing journal American Demographics recognizes that people are . . .
“into spirituality, not religion….Behind this shift is the search for an experiential faith, a religion of the heart, not the head. It’s a religious expression that downplays doctrine and dogma, and revels in direct experience of the divine–whether it’s called the ‘Holy Spirit’ or ‘cosmic consciousness’ or the ‘true self.’ It is practical and personal, more about stress reduction than salvation, more therapeutic than theological. It’s about feeling good, not being good. It’s as much about the body as the soul….Some marketing gurus have begun calling it ‘the experience industry.” (pp. 20-21)
¹ Taken from an article on the Berean Call website called The Seeker Friendly Way Of Doing Church.
By T.A. McMahon,
Co-founder of The Berean Call
Editor’s Note: Revelations In Writing is fast becoming one of my favorite blogs to read. Shannon E. Moreno is fast becoming one of my favorite blog writers. First and foremost, Shannon and I are on the same page spiritually in our identities in Christ. Secondly, she is a gifted and devoted writer. It is obvious Shannon loves the Lord and allows the Holy Spirit to guide her heart and her writing.
“For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in His grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.” – Galatians 3:18
If our salvation depends on our following of religious laws, rituals and customs, then it does not come from Jesus, Continue reading
By Ron Hutchcraft
“Christ died for our sins…” (1 Corinthians 15:3) The Gospel is a message about Christ, about sin,about Christ’s death, about Christ’s Continue reading
By John Ed Mathison
Director, John Ed Mathison Leadership Ministries
He also delivers more than cargo. During his driving experience, he has delivered three babies! That is what I call real multitasking! Continue reading
In May I decided I needed a blogging break. I called my sabbatical my Summer of God. I asked God to refresh my spirit, replenish me with fresh ideas for devotionals, new references and new ways to blog about His Gospel. To show me what He wanted me to know about Him, and about myself. He answered my prayer in ways I didn’t expect. He did, as the Bible says do more than I could think or imagine.
Meeting A Fellow Blogger
One of my most memorable experiences during my Summer of God was meeting fellow blogger and writer AmandaBeth, her husband, Jay, her sister and Amanda and Jay’s four children (from toddler to a pre-teen). They were driving through Atlanta on their way to Florida for a vacation after spending a night with Amanda’s sister who lives in Atlanta.
We all met at a Chick-Fil-A for lunch. They told me they had never had a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich. Next to an RC Cola and a Moon Pie, eatin’ a Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich is about as Southern a food as you can get. Jay said they didn’t have Chick-Fil-A up Nawth where he hails from. So eating their chicken sandwiches was a real treat for the whole family.
They’re a Genuine Godly Family
I don’t think I’ve ever met such a fun and godly couple. Jay has the patience of Job with his kids. He is one of the most mild-mannered, yet caring and loving dad I’ve ever met. His kids listen to him (except the little one sometimes) and he interacts with each of them in a personal loving way. I truly admire him and hope to get to know him better.
Amanda is a sweetheart and a very Godly women. She disciplines her kids with love and respect. All the kids (except the little one sometimes) respect and mind mom and dad. And Amanda and Jay have one of the most loving considerate relationships I’ve seen in a young couple. It was easy for me to be around them and if we lived closer together I know we’d become lasting friends.
Amanda is a published author
Amanda’s first book, You Can Have A Happy Family is a well-written guide for any family at any juncture of their relationship. It’s not as much a “how to” book as it is the biography of a happy family. One that works day-in day-out. Amanda also maintains a website about her writing, and she writes a devotional blog as well called Sharing The Truths Behind The TRUTH.
Psychologists and PhD’s usually author marriage and family books. They base their information for their books on research and experience counseling clients. Amanda wrote YOU CAN HAVE A HAPPY FAMILY from the trenches. When Amanda writes about discipline or sacrifice or intimacy or marital relationships you can take her advice to the bank for two reasons: 1) she lives what she writes every day. As a thirty-something stay-at-home mother of four (from a toddler to a pre-teen) she writes about her own experiences, her successes and her failures. Her transparent candid informal writing style puts readers in the midst of her life. 2) She writes from a deeply felt commitment to allow the Lord to show her and teach her what His will is for her marriage and family.
It’s the earth’s only satellite, orbiting the earth once every 24 hours. It’s gravitational pull causes changes in the ocean’s tides. We’ve written songs about it, Written poetry about it. Photographed it. Gawked at it. And in July, 1968 Neal Armstrong set foot on it. Continue reading
I love to watch butterflies. So fragile, so beautiful, so colorful. So free. I remember warm summer days passing patches of flowers and witnessing kaleidoscope of Continue reading
No plant on God’s green earth is more stubborn and troublesome than holly.
Yeah, Yeah, I know. It symbolizes Continue reading
Most parents support their teenagers’ sporting events. We go to games, volunteer in the concession stand, serve on boards, umpire, coach, et al.
When three of our kids were teenagers, we tried to go to all Continue reading
Many of my friends know that years before I had my open heart surgery (January 26, 2011) I had a heart transplant. I’ll get to that Continue reading
Preface to the “Who Are You?” BLOG SERIES.
During our “Who Are You” series we’ll challenge you to consider this question a lot: What do you believe?
Will you believe what you think about yourself and God? Or will you believe what God says about Himself and about you?
For instance, one of the verses Continue reading
Our Lord never “patches up” our natural virtues, that is, Continue reading
I’m fortunate to have guest blogger, Bryan Ridenour. Bryan wrote a three part series on Faith In Captivity Continue reading