The indispensable qualities of a leader (Jim Richards): Are leaders created or developed? This age-old question is not easily answered. There are natural leaders, but anyone can grow into a leadership role. Acquired skills often take a lifetime to hone; others are true for everyone. There are mountains of books on leadership. My library is full of secular and religious works on the different approaches to leadership and all tend to agree – personal preparation is the essential aspect of leadership. There are several areas of individual preparedness to explore for those of us in the Lord’s ministry. Read more at For the Church.
12 choices that got pastors or staff members in trouble (Chuck Lawless): If you do ministry long enough, you can learn from others what NOT to do—particularly when those choices led to trouble. Here are some of the problematic choices I’ve seen pastors and church staff members make. Read more at ChuckLawless.com.
10 things women married to pastors want you to know (Shari Thomas): Women married to pastors face unique challenges. Keeping the following in mind (along with a commitment to regularly pray for her and her marriage) could affect your church more than you realize. Read more at The Gospel Coalition.
7 reasons we must give more attention to our public praying (Chuck Lawless): Every church I know has a time for public prayer, when someone audibly offers a prayer on behalf of the congregation. Most evangelical churches I know, though, spend little time thinking about those prayers. They’re often spontaneous and unfocused, or they’re simply repetition of the way others pray. Read more at ChuckLawless.com.
The value of the word ministry is not necessarily seen in the short-term (Stephen Kneale):We may wonder what effect our preaching is having each week. In the weeks of silence as nobody tells us how the Lord was specifically dealing with them, we may question whether it is doing anything at all. In the weeks when our congregations are grumbling about it, we may wonder if we’re cut out for the task. In the weeks when people tell us how they believe the Lord was speaking specifically to them and we struggle to figure out whether they were even listening to the sermon we were actually preaching, it is easy to wonder about the point of it all. Read more at StephenKneale.com.
There isn’t a straight line between prayer and sermon efficacy (Stephen Kneale): We should rightly prioritize prayer. But can we draw a straight line between input of prayer and efficacy of our sermons? No chance. The Lord will bless his people, the Lord will serve his own glory, and you and I aren’t getting in the way of that. Should we pray? Absolutely. But I am wary of the emphasis that so often makes the value of our sermons dependent on the existence, or efficacy, of our prayers. It just isn’t so. Read more at StephenKneale.com.
Magical thinking (Emily Belz): Americans—including some churchgoers—are showing an increasing interest in New Age beliefs and practices. For self-described evangelicals, 19 percent said they believe in reincarnation, and 33 percent said they believe in psychics. About 30 percent of Sunday Stalwarts responded to the Pew survey saying they believe spiritual energy is focused in physical objects like crystals and mountains. That number was much higher among Catholics (47 percent) than evangelicals (24 percent). Read more at World Magazine.
Maker and shaker: Don’t forget that the Creator of the earth also controls it (Joel Belz): Yes, it bothers people to think—and especially to talk—about God’s involvement in the cyclone in Mozambique or the floods in the Midwest. But we’ve been blackmailed. By conceding the story of creation the way most of us learned it as little children, we’ve forfeited the stage where we might talk about the very God who set it all in motion. If we’re squeamish and embarrassed to talk about God the Creator, we’ll naturally shrink from a discussion about a God who orders the details of that creation. The big reason we’re disturbing to such folks is that most of them have never joined with Job as he sat and marveled at the Creator of all that is. Maybe if we were a bit bolder on that front, we’d challenge a newscaster here and there to take God seriously. Or maybe even a woman in your line at the bank. Read more at World Magazine.
One reason you may not be seeing God right now (Mike Leake): When I hear the word darkness I tend to think of depression and anxiety. God has brought me an incredible amount of victory in this area, but I still remember days of darkness. I remember groping around for anything to give me even a spark of light. Truth be told, I lit quite a few matches. I was desperate. But a desperate rebel. At times I was angry at God. I didn’t want to wait for His hand. I didn’t want to trust in His means or rely upon His Word when my feelings were all out of whack. I just wanted to feel better. So I started my own fires. Read more at MikeLeake.net.
The good we can’t let go: How to guard against subtle sins (Scott Hubbard): For many of us, the most dangerous sins are not the ones that will get us excommunicated or bring public shame on our families. They are the sort that we can carry right into church without anyone noticing. Read more at Desiring God.
Characteristics of a hardened heart (Sacha Alexandre Mendes): Let’s consider Pharaoh, the hard-hearted king of Egypt, as an example of how God’s Word describes an individual’s spiritual state. Pharaoh is an intriguing biblical figure in a fascinating narrative. As the plot unfolds, Pharaoh becomes an example of spiritual blindness despite excruciating circumstances. What is going on? Pharaoh has a hardened heart (Ex. 4:21). As each one of the plagues takes place, the Bible gives an additional piece of information about the hardened heart. Read more at the Biblical Counseling Coalition.
God must be the hero (Andre Yee): God, the sovereign Author, has been writing the glorious story of redemption from the beginning of time, and he is the hero of this greatest story. Read more at Desiring God.
Secularism’s misplaced confidence (Stephen McAlpine): Secularism’s confidence is actually a misplaced confidence. Rather than seeing the sidelining of Christianity and the push to include others – any others – as a sign of secularism’s strength, it’s time to see it as a sign of secularism’s weakness. Let me explain why. Read more at Stephen McAlpine.com.