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  1. Believe Kids Are A Blessing
  2. Read The Jesus Storybook Bible To Them
  3. Pray With Your Kids Concerning Taking Risks
  4. Teach *First Time Obedience*
  5. Give Rules For Respectful Disagreement
  6. Give Rules For Respectful Interruption
  7. Give Rules For Being Respectful in Public
  8. The Five Minute Rule (Warning)
  9. Pre-Event Preparation/Conversation
  10. Titles of Respect for Adults (No First Names)
  11. Use Timers
  12. Sharing Is Not Requested, It’s Essential
  13. Boys Treat Girls Differently Than Boys
  14. Play Rough & Teach Kids To Get Over It
  15. Kids Sit With You In Church
  16. Ask Your Kids To Forgive You
  17. Kiss Your Spouse In Front Of Them
  18. Talking Back To Mom Is Talking Back To My Wife
  19. Hugs & Kisses To Friends
  20. Disagree In Front Of Your Kids
  21. Keep/Give Away
  22. Teach Your Kids To Sing
  23. Teach Your Kids God Loves Them More Than You
  24. Get In The Pool

from Steve McCoy

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What type of church is worth the glory of God, worth having His blood shed for, worth breathing the Holy Spirit into, worth being His bride, and worth coming back for?

I dream of a multi-cultural, multi-generational church.  I dream of a church that is radically generous, one that proactively identifies need and then unleashes a flash mob of people willingly releasing their financial resources.

I dream of a church frightened by incrementalism.  I dream of a church thrilled by risk and will do anything short of sin to leave the 99 and find the missing one.

I dream of a church that reflects the Digital Age, one that openly embraces social media and creates two-way conversations with the audience, both in the service and during the week.  I dream of a church that speaks to and reaches the next generation.  I dream of a sustainable ministry.

I dream of facilities that are utilized by the public 365 days per year.  I dream of youth leaders having offices in the local schools.

I dream of a congregation being made up of businessmen and women, people with tattoos, divorcees, homosexuals, Bible scholars, elderly people not caring about anything but seeing the next generation accept Christ, drunks, alcoholics, drug addicts, people with anxiety, people who are scared, the poor, the under-resourced, the devalued, bikers, bouncers, athletes, celebrities, people of all colors, shapes, ages, and varying maturing levels in their Christian life.  I dream they will all sit side-by-side with one common goal – knowing Jesus more intimately today than they did yesterday.

I dream of a church of big ideas.  I dream of being in a room with other pioneers who say, “If caution was absolutely thrown to the wind, what could we do for the glory of God?”  I dream of the college ministry being the most influential group in the church.

I dream of adult baptisms weekly.  I dream of elderly conversions.  I dream of no one ever having to walk alone.  I dream of hundreds of high-capacity leaders being able to serve with their minds, not just their bodies.  I dream of highly influential women serving in leadership.

I dream of having hundreds of local government officials and school teachers attending services weekly.  I dream of Sunday experiences that are talked about Monday through Saturday.  I dream of long lines waiting to get into services.

I dream of sin being confessed and families being reconciled.  I dream of leadership meetings that exceed Fortune 500 companies for preparation, energy, creativity, accountability, and implementation.

I dream of stories of human life so compelling churches are on television every week because it is the best reality show there is.

I dream of this type of pulsating church because I feel that is the type of church worthy of Jesus giving His life for.

Brian Dodd

7 Ways to Help Children Cope with FEAR

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No doubt, the tragic incident in Conneticut has caused fear in all of us. Imagine the fear in the innocent mind of a child. How does a parent or teacher address this fear?

Here are 7 suggestions:

Don’t assume – Don’t assume just because your child doesn’t mention what happened that they don’t know or care. Fear is a nomal reaction, especially for a child. Watch for unusual behavior. Be aware of mood changes or extreme sadness. Make sure they know it’s okay to talk about it and that there is no shame or disappointment from you when they are fearful. Maybe tell them of a time you were afraid…even a recent time.

Limit exposure – You’re curious, so the television may be on news stations. What are they covering right now? Remember they process information different from how you do. They may not appear to be watching, but they probably are more than you think. Fill their minds with things to encourage them not perpetuate the fear. This is a time to turn off the television and simply play with your kids. They’ll get no better assurance.

Ask questions – You may think they are afraid of one thing, but it is something completely different. Many times children, especially young children, are simply confused or have misinformation. You can better address the fear if you know its roots.

Assure them – Let them know they are safe. Don’t lie to them, but remember the chances of the same thing happening to them is rare…very rare. Remind them you’d do anything to protect them. You may need to help them process for weeks to come. Don’t rush them to “get over it”. Pray for and with them often.

Live normal – As much as possible, live a normal weekly schedule. Their routine is part of their “security blanket.” Don’t allow their fear to cripple them or the family for long. In spite of our fears, we have to move forward.

Be calm – Especially during this stressful time, don’t let your children see you in panic. Watch what you say in front of them. Parents shouldn’t fight in front of kids anytime, but especially during a time of uncertainty like this. Renew your faith. They get their faith through you.

Give them Scripture – They need something they can cling to as permanent and dependable. What better place than the Word that will never fade? Recite Psalm 56:3 to them. If they are old enough, write it down somewhere they can see it often. Memorize some verses of strength and share with them often.

Ron Edmondson

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We often have no idea what to say in the face of senseless loss. That is especially true when children are the victims of tragedy. Yesterday’s massacre in Connecticut is heartbreaking in so many ways, not the least of which is the staggering loss of children.

Anyone ministering in the ER after senseless tragedies will hear incredibly bad theology coming from people who think they are helping. Untruth and conjectures do not make a situation better.

Here are five things not to say to grieving family and friends:

1. “God just needed another angel.”

Portraying God as someone who arbitrarily kills kids to fill celestial openings is neither faithful to God, nor helpful to grieving parents.

2. “Thank goodness you have other children,” or, “You’re young. You can have more kids.”

Children are not interchangeable or replaceable. The loss of a child will always be a loss, no matter how many other children a parent has or will have.

3. He/she was just on loan to you from God.

The message is that God is so capricious that God will break parents’ hearts at will just because God can. It also communicates to parents and loved ones that they are not really entitled to their grief.

4. God doesn’t give you more than you can handle.

Actually, some people do get a lot more than any one person should ever have to handle. Don’t trivialize someone’s grief with a “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” mentality.

5. “There, there, pull yourself together.”

Jesus did not say this to the family when he stood at the grave of Lazarus. Instead, he himself stood and wept. Job tore his garments and fell to ground – yet, the text says, he did not sin in doing this.

And here are five things to say:

1. This breaks the heart of God.

From beginning to end, the Bible speaks of God’s emotions of grief and anger at evil and his heart for the brokenhearted. He invites us to come to him, tell him our grieve, and know he is approachable.

2. It’s okay to be angry, and I’m a safe person for you express that anger to if you need it.

Anger is an essential part of the grieving process, but many don’t know where to talk about it because they are often silenced by others when they express their feelings. (For instance, they may be told they have no right to be angry at God.) By saying you are a safe person to share all feelings, including anger, with, you help the grieving person know where they can turn.

3. What happened is not okay.

It seems so obvious, but sometimes this doesn’t get said. Sometimes the pieces don’t fit. Sometimes nothing works out right. And sometimes there is no way to fix it. Naming it can be helpful for some because it lets them know you won’t sugarcoat their grief. The writers of Scripture often asked, “How long, O Lord, how long does this have to go on?”

4. I don’t know why this happened.

When trauma happens, the shock and emotion comes first. But not long after comes our human need to try to explain “why?” The reality is that often we cannot. The grieving person will likely have heard a lot of theories about why a trauma occurred. Sometimes it’s best not to add to the chorus, but to just acknowledge what you do not know.

5. I can’t imagine what you are going through, but I care and I am here for you in whatever way you would like.

Even if you have faced a similar loss, remember that each loss is different. Saying “I know how you’re feeling” is often untrue. Instead, ask how the grieving person is feeling. And then ask what you can do to help. Then, do it and respect the boundaries around what they don’t want help with at this point. You will be putting some control back into the hands of the grieving person, who often feels like they have lost so much of it.

It goes without saying – but sensitive, short and trusting prayer is both right and needed.

Adapted from an article by Emily Heath

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Dear Lord Jesus, we abandon ourselves to you tonight—we come running with our tears and our fears, our anger and our anguish, our lament and our longings. We collapse in your presence, with the assurance of your welcome, needing the mercies of your heart.

Some stories are just too much for us to absorb; some evil just too great to conceive; some losses  beyond all measurability. We need your tears and your strength tonight. That you wept outside the tomb of a beloved friend frees us to groan and mourn; that you conquered his death with yours, frees us to hope and wait.

But we turn our thoughts from ourselves to the families who have suffered an unconscionable violation of heart and all sensibilities. Bring your presence to bear, Lord Jesus, by your Spirit and through your people. May your servants weep with those who weep and wail with those who wail. Extend your tear wiping hand—reach into this great tragedy with an even greater grace.

We cry out on behalf of the children of Newtown, those most directly affected by this evil, and for children throughout our country and the world, whose little hearts are reeling with fear and terror. Give parents wisdom and kindness, as they seek to love their children well, this night and in the coming days. Raise up gifted counselors and care givers to serve those most traumatized.

Lastly, Lord Jesus, we cry out with a loud voice, How long, O, Lord? How long before you return to eradicate all evil, redeem all tragedies, and make all things new? How long, O, Lord, how long? Your Bride weeps and waits for you. In your merciful and mighty name we pray.

Scotty Smith

Today is a day for hatred.

As I write this article, the death count stands at 20 children. Twenty. Twenty babies who got on a bus or walked out a door or stepped out of a car at the drop-off curb and are never coming home.

Father in heaven, their lunchboxes still hold uneaten sandwiches, unread love notes scrawled on napkins.

For 20 families, the worst fear a parent can know was waiting at the other end of a phone line today. Eleven days before Christmas, no less. Those children and teachers who survived will carry in their heads sights and sounds that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

And what comfort is there to offer them? What words are there to speak? A parent takes every measure possible to protect a child, though we know full well the world is not safe. But this?

There is no spin to put on a story like this. Yes, we will hear stories of heroism begin to emerge over the next hours, and they are stories we will need to hear. But there is no way to soften the blow.

Nor should we want to.

As a mother watching someone else’s horror play out on a screen, I want to feel this to the core of my being. I want it to inform my thoughts and actions in a way that leaves me changed. Because on days like today we learn just how broken sin has left us, just how bleak is our landscape without a Savior.

Days like today give us no choice but to hate. They leave us only with a choice of where that hatred will land: Will we hate God, or will we hate sin?

I choose to hate sin. On days like today I will reflect again on the ravaging effects of rebellion against God, multiplied across millennia, manifested in a freshly printed headline. The more shocking the headline, the more I must come to grips with my minimized reckoning of the severity of sin. With Nehemiah I will cry out, “I and my fathers have sinned,” freshly grieved over the sins of others—yes—but freshly grieved over my own sin as well. I have not pulled a trigger, but I have harmed my share of victims. The killer lies dead, but I live on to harm again. On days like today I will renew my resolve not to participate in tearing down what God pronounced good at the dawn of human existence. I cannot stop a murderer, but by the grace of God I can stop sinning against those he has given into my care.

I cannot offer a snippet of Scripture or a platitude to comfort those families, or to comfort you, my fellow believers. The day of our comfort is a future one. All I can offer is to hate my sin more deeply than I did yesterday and to cry out to God for a time when the groaning of this creation gives birth to that which is once again good. If hope ever transects hatred, it is here. In a few hours my own children will walk through my front door, God willing. I can be a mother who loves deeply and unselfishly in a world that is not safe. Surely that is the least I can do for these precious lives.

Today is a day for hatred. Today is a day for the weight of our sin to be felt in full force. May our hearts break under the blow. May they be shattered to dust.

Jen Wilkins

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Well, my country and much of the rest of the world are electric with the election of Barack Obama as the new President of the United States of America. To say that it is historic, is a gross understatement.

Justin Taylor and Al Mohler, have both inspired some reflection on the question of how we as Christians –Bible-believing, Reformed, Christians– ought to pray for him, and I have freely borrowed many of their words and thoughts on this. But here are some ideas for leading our people to pray for our President-Elect. Barack Obama.

We ought to commit ourselves to pray for our new President, for his wife and family, for his administration, and for the nation. We will do this, not only because of the biblical command to pray for our rulers, but because of the second greatest commandment “Love your neighbor” and what better way to love your neighbor, than to pray for his well-being. Those with the greatest moral and political differences with the President-Elect ought to ask God to engender in them, by His Spirit, genuine neighbor-love for Mr. Obama.

We will also pray for our new President because he (and we) face challenges that are not only daunting but potentially disastrous. We will pray that God will grant him wisdom. He and his family will face new challenges and the pressures of this office. May God protect them, give them joy in their family life, and hold them close together.

We will pray that God will protect this nation even as our new President settles into his role as Commander in Chief, and that God will grant peace as he leads the nation through times of trial and international conflict and tension.

We will pray that God would change President-Elect Obama’s mind and heart on issues of crucial moral concern. May God change his heart and open his eyes to see abortion as the murder of the innocent unborn, to see marriage as an institution to be defended, and to see a host of issues in a new light. We must pray this from this day until the day he leaves office. God is sovereign, after all.

For those Christians who are more dismayed than overjoyed about the prospects of an Obama presidency, there should be a remembrance that as our President, Barack Obama will have God-given authority to govern us, and that we should view him as a servant of God (Rom. 13:14) to whom we should be subject (Rom. 13:151 Pet. 2:13-14). Thus, again, we are to pray for Barack Obama (1 Tim. 2:1-2). We are tothank God for Barack Obama (1 Tim. 2:1-2). We are to respect Barack Obama (Rom. 13:7). We are to honor Barack Obama (Rom. 13:71 Pet. 2:17).

For those Christians who are more overjoyed than concerned about the prospects of an Obama presidency, there should be a remembrance of our ultimate allegiance: Jesus is Lord (and thus, He, not we, decides what is right and wrong), we serve God not man, and the Lord himself has promised to establish “the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him” (Malachi 3:18). Thus, where our new president opposes or undermines biblical moral standards in our society, fails to uphold justice for the unborn, undermines religious liberties or condones an ethos that is hostile to the Gospel, we will pray for God’s purposes to triumph over our President’s plans and policies.

Without doubt and whatever our particular views may be, we face hard days ahead. Realistically, we must all expect to be frustrated and disappointed. Some now may feel defeated and discouraged. While others may all-too-soon find their audacious hopes unfounded and unrealized. We must all keep ever in mind that it is God who raises up leaders and nations, and it is God who pulls them down, and who judges both nations and rulers. We must not act or think like unbelievers, or as those who do not trust God. LIgon Duncan

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Eternal Father of my soul,
let my first thought today be of You,
let my first impulse be to worship You,
let my first speech be Your name,
let my first action be to kneel before You in prayer.

For Your perfect wisdom and perfect goodness:
For the love with which You love mankind:
For the love with which You love me:
For the great and mysterious opportunity of my life:
For the indwelling of Your Spirit in my heart:
For the sevenfold gifts of Your Spirit:
I praise and worship You, O Lord.

Yet let me not, when this morning prayer is said,
think my worship ended and spend the day in forgetfulness of You.
Rather from these moments of quietness let light go forth,
and joy, and power, that will remain with me
through all the hours of the day;

Keeping me chaste in thought:
Keeping me temperate and truthful in speech:
Keeping me faithful and diligent in my work:
Keeping me humble in my estimation of myself:
Keeping me honorable and generous in my dealings with others:
Keeping me loyal to every hallowed memory of the past:
Keeping me mindful of my eternal destiny as a child of Yours.

Through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

- John Baillie, 1886-1960

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FACT: If your children can’t read by age four there is a 95% chance they will end up homeless and on drugs.

FACT: If your children eat any processed food there is an 85% chance they will contract a rare, most likely incurable disease, by age 12.

FACT: If  you’re not up at dawn reading the Bible to your children, you are most likely a pagan caught in the clutches of witchcraft.

FACT: If your children watch more than 10 minutes of television a day there is 75% chance they will end up in a violent street gang by age 17.

Obviously, the “facts” listed above are not true (at least, I don’t think they are). But, I’ve noticed that the Internet has made it much easier for people, and moms in particular, to compare themselves to each other. Now, just to be clear, this is not a post against “mom blogs”, or whatever they’re called. If you write a mom blog, that’s cool with me. This is a post to encourage the moms who tend to freak out and feel like complete failures when they read the mom blogs and mom Facebook posts.

Moms, Jesus wants you to chill out about being a mom. You don’t have to make homemade bread to be a faithful mom. You don’t have to sew you children’s clothing to be a faithful mom. You don’t have to coupon, buy all organic produce, keep a journal, scrapbook, plant a garden, or make your own babyfood to be a faithful mom. There’s nothing wrong with these things, but they’re also not in your biblical job description.

Your job description is as follows:

  • Love God. This simply means finding some time during the day to meet with the Lord. It doesn’t have to be before all the kids are awake. It doesn’t have to be in the pre-dawn stillness. Your job is to love God. How you make that happen can look a million different ways.
  • Love your husband (unless you’re a single mom, of course). Your second job is to love and serve your husband. Husbands are to do the same for their wives, but that’s for a different post. If your husband really likes homemade bread, maybe you could make it for him. But don’t make homemade bread simply because you see other moms posting pictures of their homemade bread on Facebook.
  • Love your kids. Your calling as mom is to love your kids and teach them to follow the Lord. They don’t need to know Latin by age six. If they do, more power to you. But that’s a bonus, not part of the job description. Your job is simply to love your kids with all your exhausted heart, and to teach them to love Jesus. That’s a high calling. Don’t go throwing in other, extraneous things to make your life more difficult. If you want to teach your kids to sew, great. But don’t be crushed by guilt if your kids aren’t making stylish blazers by the age of 10.

Moms, Jesus want you to rest in him. He wants you to chill out. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. Don’t compare yourself to other moms. Don’t try to be something God hasn’t called you to be. If the mom blogs are making you feel guilty, stop reading them. Be faithful to what he has truly called you to do, and know that he is pleased with you. When your kids are resting, don’t feel guilty about watching an episode of “Lost”, or whatever your favorite show may happen to be.

Love God, love your husband, love your kids. Keep it simple and chill out.

From the Blazing Center

 

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The local church is the front line of ministry. In the battle against the spiritual forces of evil, the church is the trench. Christ’s bride is dug in, charged up, and ready to die for the freedom of souls. I relish the trench. It’s messy, at times gruesome, and the noise makes it difficult to sleep.

But I love it.

While there is no beauty in warfare (spiritual or otherwise), the battling bride is a gorgeous organism. Despite the muck, despite the damage, and despite the fight, she remains pure, white, and righteous. She belongs to Christ. She combats for Christ. She never stops engaging in the mission of reclaiming captives of darkness. The fighting white bride shines in the gray of spiritual war.

As a pastor, I realize the gravity of decisions I make. Vision isn’t just a compelling statement of future growth. Programs aren’t just tools for assimilating more people. Church events are far more than ways to make the community come to the campus.

When you invite someone to church, you’re calling them down into the trench. When you talk to someone about joining the mission, you’re asking them to suit up and grab a gospel grenade. The church is currently fighting a battle which will lead to ultimate victory. We win. Satan loses. And Jesus reigns. But we still must fight. The beautiful bride is a battling warrior.

Let’s stop pretending our churches are polished platforms of sanitized morality, speaking sentimentality apart from Truth. Let’s burn the preferences of wooden traditionalism. Let’s quit the silly game of worship experience one-upmanship. Let’s elevate spiritual grit above smooth and seamless operations. We’re in the middle of a serious war. Let’s get real about what we believe and who we’re really following.

When King Jesus returns, will he find the faithful in the trenches or in comfortable country clubs?

So we dig in. War is not won when soldiers retreat. Victory does not come to indifferent combatants. I’ve been guilty of placing myself on a pedestal. I’ve tried to climb into the ivory tower. I’ve ridden a few high horses. And I’ve found I’m at my best when I’m covered in mud in the trench of the local church. I’m fighting most fiercely when I’m not worried about my personal brand. I’m fighting well when I’m more concerned about the local pregnancy clinic than who retweets one of my pithy—but ultimately useless—140-character oddments.

So I fight.

I fight for people in the womb.

I fight for diversity in the local church.

I fight to help the poor.

I fight against injustice, and I fight for the widow.

I fight for every tongue, tribe, and nation.

I fight so sinners can clearly hear the deafening and all-consuming gospel.

The trench is the front line. I never want to leave until the battle is done. I want to die here: old, leathered, scarred, and exhausted. I can’t imagine approaching the throne of God unless I’m ready to collapse into the arms of Jesus.

I won’t stop until King Jesus returns, offering the victory promised. God, please don’t ever take me out of the trench. I want to die fighting.

Sam Rainer

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Consider Henry David Thoreau. He could not find a publisher for his first book, so he financed the printing of 1000 copies with his own money and only sold 300. He spent the last few years of his life before he died of tuberculosis editing his works and urging publishers to republish them. Now his writings are required reading in many school curriculums.

Consider Anne Frank. “Will I ever be able to write something great, will I ever become a journalist or a writer?” She penned these words just months before she was captured by Nazis and taken to a prison camp where she suffered greatly and died, not realizing that the very words she penned in her diary would go on to become immortalized as a message of resistance against tyrannical persecution.

Consider Emily Dickinson. Of the 1800 poems she wrote, fewer than a dozen were published in her lifetime and those that were published were highly altered to fit the strict poetic conventions of her day. In fact, you might not even recognize the name Emily Dickinson if her sister had not broken a promise she made to burn all of Emily’s writings after her death.

There are many others. People who wrote with conviction without an audience. People with transformative ideas that the world discovered too late. People with little hope in this life that their message would gain traction or their ideas would being lauded for their merit. People with no Facebook Like button, no inflated comment count, no Mount Everest page view graph—just something important to say and the conviction, the discipline, and the wherewithal to say it.

Technology has afforded us, however, all these means of feedback, so it’s tempting to monitor them and shape our message around what people respond well to. Content creation by comment count, as it were. But anyone who has ever said anything worth saying knows that the important truths are sometimes the least obvious and least popular.

So the next time you contribute something to the annals of Internet history and you’re tempted to look upon yourself and curse your fate, wishing yourself like to one more rich in fans, friends, likes and comments, stop for a moment and consider instead the merit of your ideas.

“Be not astonished at new ideas; for it is well known to you that a thing does not therefore cease to be true because it is not accepted by many.” —Spinoza

Plastic Mind Blog

I once heard Tom Elliff describe how he and his wife, Jeannie, get away for a private retreat every year. Once, while sharing a meal in an intimate restaurant, Tom asked Jeannie these questions – he wanted to listen to his wife’s words and hear from her heart.

He said, “you must promise to answer them honestly. I want to know your heart.”

I’ve asked Ruthe these questions several times over the years. The answers can be surprising, even painful, but ultimately, they make me a better friend and lover.

1. What could I do to cause you to feel more loved?

2. What could I do to cause you to feel more respected?

3. What could I do to cause you to feel more understood?

4. What could I do to cause you to feel more secure?

5. What could I do to cause you to feel more confident in our future direction?

6. What attribute would you most like me to develop?

7. What attribute would you like me to help you develop in yourself?

8. What achievement in my life would bring you greatest joy?

9. What would indicate to you that I really desire to be more Christ-like?

10. What mutual goal would you like us to accomplish?

 

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#1 – When excuses are made about the way things are instead of embracing a willingness to roll up the sleeves and fix the problem.

#2 – When the church becomes content with merely receiving people that come rather than actually going out and finding them…in other words, they lose their passion for evangelism!

#3 – The focus of the church is to build a great church (complete with the pastors picture…and his wife’s…on everything) and not the Kingdom of God.

#4 – The leadership begins to settle for the natural rather than rely on the supernatural.

#5 – The church begins to view success/failure in regards to how they are viewed in the church world rather than whether or not they are actually fulfilling the Great Commission!

#6 – The leaders within the church cease to be coachable.

#7 – There is a loss of a sense of urgency!  (Hell is no longer hot, sin is no longer wrong and the cross is no longer important!)

#8 – Scripture isn’t central in every decision that is made!

#9 – The church is reactive rather than proactive.

#10 – The people in the church lose sight of the next generation and refuse to fund ministry simply because they don’t understand “those young people.”

#11 – The goal of the church is to simply maintain the way things are…to NOT rock the boat and/or upset anyone…especially the big givers!

#12 – The church is no longer willing to take steps of faith because “there is just too much to lose.”

#13 – The church simply does not care about the obvious and immediate needs that exist in the community.

#14 – The people learn how to depend on one man to minister to everyone rather than everyone embracing their role in the body, thus allowing the body to care for itself.

#15 – When the leaders/staff refuse to go the extra mile in leading and serving because of how “inconvenient” doing so would be.

(this is from Perry Noble – and he is right on target) 
 

 

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In the beginning, the all-powerful, personal God created the universe. This God created human beings in His image to live joyfully in His presence, in humble submission to His gracious authority. But all of us have rebelled against God and, in consequence, must suffer the punishment of our rebellion: physical death and the wrath of God.

Thankfully, God initiated a rescue plan, which began with His choosing the nation of Israel to display His glory in a fallen world. The Bible describes how God acted mightily on Israel’s behalf, rescuing His people from slavery and then giving them His holy law. But God’s people – like all of us – failed to rightly reflect the glory of God.

Then, in the fullness of time, in the Person of Jesus Christ, God Himself came to renew the world and restore His people. Jesus perfectly obeyed the law given to Israel. Though innocent, He suffered the consequences of human rebellion by His death on a cross. But three days later, God raised Him from the dead.

Now the church of Jesus Christ has been commissioned by God to take the news of Christ’s work to the world. Empowered by God’s Spirit, the church calls all people everywhere to repent of sin and to trust in Christ alone for our forgiveness. Repentance and faith restores our relationship with God and results in a life of ongoing transformation.

The Bible promises that Jesus Christ will return to this earth as the conquering King. Only those who live in repentant faith in Christ will escape God’s judgment and live joyfully in God’s presence for all eternity. God’s message is the same to all of us: repent and believe, before it is too late. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, and you will be saved.

Trevin Wax

 

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It is abundantly clear to most Americans that the “Westboro Baptist Church” is neither “Baptist” nor a “church” according to any commonly accepted meaning of either word. As a Christ follower, and a long time church attender, I enter this plea to stop using the phrase “Westboro Baptist Church” in favor of the more accurate “the Westboro cult.”

 

A search last Friday, August 3, 2012, on news.google.com–the news search, not the web search–of the phrase “Westboro Baptist Church” returned thousands of stories from news outlets. An immediate follow up search of “Westboro cult” returned four (4) results, all of which appeared to be people making comments on news stories. The most consistent users of the phrase “Westboro cult” appear to be a few conservative bloggers.

Westboro “Baptist Church” is not affiliated with any known Baptist conventions, associations, or denominations. It stands proudly independent, with little desire for “friendly cooperation.”

The overwhelming majority of churches in the United States do not fit these popular definitions of a cult regardless of how hard one stretched the description. But Westboro does. This is the definition from Wikipedia:

The word cult in current popular usage usually refers to a new religious movement or other group whose beliefs or practices are considered abnormal or bizarre. The word originally denoted a system of ritual practices.

 

Or what about this definition of cult from BING:

1. religion: a system of religious or spiritual beliefs, especially an informal and transient belief system regarded by others as misguided, unorthodox, extremist, or false, and directed by a charismatic, authoritarian leader
2. religious group: a group of people who share religious or spiritual beliefs, especially beliefs regarded by others as misguided, unorthodox, extremist, or false. [Emphasis in all cases mine.]

 

Even a general religious definition used at Cultwatch.com, defines “cult” as

a group claiming to be Christian [yet] teaches significantly different things from what the Bible teaches.

 

A brief glance at Westboro’s website (Godhatesfags.com) reveals they place even their picketing schedule above what they “believe.” The listed “Sister Sites” are filled with hatred. The Westboro cult is interested in attention and free publicity.

You will find no Christian leaders in America or the world, no ordinary church attender, and precious few non-Christians or atheists who consider the actions of Phelps’ group to be representative of orthodox, normal, true, or customary Christianity. Few would consider them to be a legitimate expression of a “church,” properly understood.

Simply stated, Fred Phelps and his Topeka followers are a cult, and should always be designated as “the Westboro cult.” They should never be called a “church,” nor should they be called “Baptist,” and it is grossly inaccurate, as well as offensive to millions of Americans, to continue to do so.

Sincerely,
Marty Duren

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