01.28.14

Three Major Faith and Culture Trends for 2014   by Barna Group

https://www.barna.org/barna-update/culture/649-three-major-faith-and-culture-trends-for-2014#.Ut60lHl6jUo

New Barna research reports that Americans are ranking their confidence in institutions at abysmal levels. And this institutional skepticism comprises a significant backdrop for the major faith and culture trends of 2014.

This cultural attitude of institutional distrust has not arisen out of nowhere, of course. Public mistrust—generated by a spectrum of events from Watergate to the financial crisis—has been mounting for decades. During 2013 alone, citizens lamented the failure of their leaders and institutions. From the government shutdown to Pope Francis’ public callout of the Vatican bank to the whistleblowing of the NSA to the problematic rollout of Obamacare, Americans were reminded again and again that institutions apparently have a habit of breaking promises. The Associated Press even went so far as to call 2013 “The Year of Dysfunction, Discord and Distrust.”

Still, while tens of millions of adults are questioning the value of institutions, there is also a growing countertrend revealed in new Barna data: increasing resolve among many Americans to advocatefor these institutions. This erosion of public trust—as well as the countertrend of supporters of those institutions—underscores three of the major trends that Barna Group has included in the newly released Barna FRAMES project. Continue reading

01.28.14

3 Infographics:

How are Schools Doing?

Do you think there is a connection between Violent behavior and…

The Institution and Me

01.28.14

Christ’s Calling   by Wisdom Hunters

“‘Come follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will make you fishers of men.’ At once they left their nets and followed him” (Matthew 4:19–20).
Disciples of Jesus are called by the Lord to minister in their homes and in the marketplace. However, Christ does call some of His followers to vocational ministry. It is a calling that many times comes to ordinary men and women who accomplish extraordinary results. Whom does He call? Christ’s call comes to those who have a hungry heart for God.Like Paul, you might have been suddenly smitten by a revelation of Jesus as Lord, or perhaps you were like David, who gradually went from feeding sheep what was perishable to feeding God’s people the imperishable. Wherever Christ calls, His first command is to love God and people. A calling without love is like a car without gasoline. It may be attractive on the outside, but it is not going anywhere. Thus, love large where the Lord has called you.Furthermore, He has called you to endure hardship. “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary” (Revelation 2:3). Christians are not immune to conflict; in fact, your faith invites difficulty at times. So do not seek to shelter your life from adversity, but rather position yourself in obedience to Christ’s calling. It is out of your regular routine of serving Him that you will see what He has in store next.Make sure you minister first to your spouse and children. Do not be like the cobbler who has no shoes for his family. Your creditability for Christ is seeing your faith lived out with those who know you the best. What does it profit a man if he saves the whole world and loses his family? A calling to family first frees you to evangelize and disciple with God’s favor. His calling aligns with His commands; so service for Him is seamless. Continue reading

01.28.14

3 Fears That Prevent Leaders from Being Authentic and Influencing People                      by Rick Warren

You want God to use you to influence others in ministry or you probably wouldn’t be reading this. And for God to really use you, you have to be willing and able to get close to people and enjoy real relationships with them. But having mentored thousands of pastors all over the world, it’s pretty apparent that we’re dying of relational isolation.

Many of your relationship problems are not really relationship problems. They’re personal problems that spill over into relationships. Many of your relationship conflicts, including conflicts with people within the church, are really conflicts within you. They are internal battles. If you want to have great relationships and therefore be a better leader, you’ve got to start with some changes in yourself first rather than expecting everyone around you to change and fix your internal issues for you.

The Bible says in Romans 12:9, “Love from the center of who you are.  Don’t fake it.”  (MSG) Authenticity is when what you see is what you get. It’s when you don’t play a role, you don’t wear a mask. Most pastors are afraid to remove their masks. Here are three reasons why.  Continue reading

01.21.14

5 Questions to Ask Before Posting to Social Media   by Cara Joyner

http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/tech/5-questions-ask-posting-social-media#content

I was a freshman in college when Facebook came out and I distinctly remember thinking, “why would I need this? I have AOL Instant Messenger and MySpace!”

Well, times have changed. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram (and a slew of other sites I’m not cool enough to know about) have simultaneously brought us closer together and driven us further apart. With the exception of a few universally offensive statements or pictures, it’s a rule-free zone where we can interact with society while accepting minimal personal responsibility for the implications of what we do.

In absence of guidelines for healthy and polite social media etiquette, we are left to determine our own boundaries for navigating the seemingly endless opportunities available to us.

Before we snap one more picture of our hot chocolate topped with a foam leaf, perhaps we would benefit from a brief pause—an extra 30 seconds to ask five simple questions might suggest it’s time to unplug, or at least reconsider when and how we use social media: Continue reading

01.21.14

The Aim of Preaching   by Rick Warren

If God’s objective for every believer is to transform us into total Christlikeness, then the objective of preaching is to motivate people to develop Christlike convictions (to think like Jesus), Christlike character(to feel like Jesus), and Christlike conduct (to act like Jesus). Every other objective of preaching is secondary. At the end of the sermon, if people aren’t being transformed in how they think, feel, and act, I’ve missed the mark as a preacher.

To put it another way, the ultimate goal of preaching is not information. In fact, giving people a greater knowledge of the Bible can cause pride to develop in our hearers rather than humility if that information isn’t translated into obedience. And the goal if preaching is not merely instruction either. Preaching certainly includes instruction, but there is more to preaching that mere behavior modification. The goal of well-rounded preaching is transformationand obedience. Continue reading

01.21.14

Intentional Living   by Wisdom Hunters

Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. Nehemiah 1:2

Intentional living is meaningful living. It is an invitation to significance. Intentional living inquires where God may be working and then serves there. It’s a wise balance between peering into the future at what can be accomplished, while focusing on what presently  needs to get done next. Intentionality separates good leaders from great leaders, average parents from exceptional parents, and mediocrity from excellence. Greatness insists on intentionality.

Nehemiah was set for life. He had significant influence with the most powerful person on the planet. However, his heart was set on helping his people. He traded affluence and comfort for modesty and discomfort. Yes, intentional living is willing to let go of current success and replace it with lesser notoriety. For example, intentional parenting may require a pause in our career advancement to come home for a season until the children leave home. Faithfulness is deliberate. Continue reading

01.21.14

What Should You Do When Your Plans Seem Hindered?  By Rick Renner

Wherefore we would have come unto you, even I Paul, once and
 again; but Satan hindered us. — 1 Thessalonians 2:18

Have you ever pursued something that you believed was God’s will, yet obstacles seemed to keep you from doing what you thought you were supposed to do? If you have, don’t feel alone, because many people have been in that same position! Even the apostle Paul felt this way from time to time! But what should you do in times like these?

Today I want you to particularly notice the word “hindered” in the verse above. It comes from the Greek word egkopto, an old word that was originally used to describe a road so deteriorated and broken up that it was impassable.

Have you ever driven down a road on your way to your destination, only to discover that the road you’re driving on is too full of ruts and holes to continue your journey? As a result, you have to turn around, go back, and find another route to get where you are going. Well, that is exactly the image the word egkopto portrays to us! Continue reading

01.14.14

Trending From One Year to the Next   by Tony Myles

http://www.morethandodgeball.com/serve/lesson-idea-trending-from-one-year-to-the-next/

How do you get students to start serving and affecting their culture in the name of Jesus Christ?

Maybe it begins by being in the loop on past and current trends.

You’ve probably heard all the flashy headlines on MileyDuck Dynasty and more… but what about the more obscure things that reflect the true trends?

For example, Google again sidestepped saying “Merry Christmas” in its on Christmas Day “Google Doodle” in order to take on a more neutral ”Happy Holidays.” Keep in mind, these are the same drawings that will on some days honor everything from the “100th anniversary of the first aviation ‘loop de loop’” to the unique features of a Zamboni. (Admittedly, I do think the game on Dr. Who’s 50th Anniversary was quite fantastic.)

Maybe this is only news, but I bring it up as an example that illustrates trends in our culture. An L.A. Times Article summarized a recent poll on the subject: Continue reading

01.14.14

Top Ten Mistakes Christian Parents of Teens Make  by Jeff Strong

http://meredisciple.com/blog/2010/06/top-ten-mistakes-christian-parents-of-teens-make/

It might be difficult for some parents to read through, but here’s a top ten list that I’ve been wanting to write for a while. Over the next several days I’ll be expanding on each of these in succession, but for now, here is my top ten mistakes Christian parents of teens make:

10. Not spending time with your teen.

A lot of parents make the mistake of not spending time with their teens because they assume their teens don’t want to spend time with them! While that’s true in some contexts, teens still want and need “chunks” of one-on-one time with parents. Despite the fact that teens are transitioning into more independence and often carry a “I don’t need/want you around” attitude, they are longing for the securing and grounding that comes from consistent quality time.

Going for walks together, grabbing a coffee in order to “catch up,” going to the movies together, etc., all all simple investments that teens secretly want and look forward to. When you don’t carve out time to spend with your teen, you’re communicating that you’re not interested in them, and they internalize that message, consciously or unconsciously.

9. Letting your teen’s activities take top priority for your family.

The number of parents who wrap their lives/schedules around their teen’s activities is mind-boggling to me. I honestly just don’t get it. I know many parents want to provide their children with experiences and opportunities they never had growing up, but something’s gone wrong with our understanding of family and parenting when our teen’s wants/”needs” are allowed to overwhelm the family’s day-to-day routines.

Parents need to prioritize investing in their relationship with God (individually and as a couple), themselves and each other, but sadly all of these are often neglected in the name of “helping the kids get ahead.” “Don’t let the youth sports cartel run your life,” says Jen singer, author of You’re A Good Mom (and Your Kids Aren’t So Bad Either). I can’t think of many good reasons why families can’t limit teens to one major sport/extra-curricular activity per season. Not only will a frenetic schedule slowly grind down your entire family of time, you’ll be teaching your teen that “the good life” is a hyper-active one. That doesn’t align itself to Jesus’ teaching as it relates to the healthy rhythms of prayer, Sabbath, and down-time, all of which are critical to the larger Christian task of “seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

8. Spoiling your teen. Continue reading