Christian Growth

The Blame Game and Spiritual Preparedness

I do a lot of reading, as you probably know. Right now, I am reading a splendid book on the subject of apologetics titled, Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism, and Other God Substitutes, by Nancy Pearcey.

Unfortunately, despite the amazing nature of this book, the author makes the same mistake I have heard repeated time and time again: the claim that our churches do not prepare our youth with the answers to the questions and challenges they will face in college.

The reason for this lack of preparedness (I would argue) is not necessarily a lack of opportunity. Many students don’t want answers to questions (before they face a crisis), because it takes too much mental effort to think things through. Even if present where the big questions are thoroughly addressed, some may be uninterested and daydream the opportunity away. Such issues do not seem relevant at the time.

It is not until those students are pressured in college that they realize they do not have an answer, or that disturbing questions even exist. In most cases, answers are available—if you know where to find them. But if you haven’t learned at least some of those answers beforehand, it is easy to conclude that there are no answers. (Incidentally, this is why it is crucial for college students to be involved in organizations like Cru/Campus Crusade, Navigators, or Intervarsity; those organizations can often steer inquirers to quick and at-hand resources).

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Who Needs Revival?

Some years ago, I was visiting a small rural church in Michigan where a preacher delivered a message on revival. His text was Genesis 26:18.

And Isaac digged again the wells of water, which they had digged in the days of Abraham his father; for the Philistines had stopped them after the death of Abraham.

He argued passionately that what we need more than anything else in these times is revival. In fact, revival would solve every significant problem that exists in our nation, our churches, and in the lives of God’s people everywhere. Near the end of his message, he summarized with these words. “Our nation needs revival, God’s people need revival, we here—we all need revival… I need revival.”

The message illustrates a widespread way of thinking about revival and a common pattern in pulpit use of the term. But three problems with this usage call for our attention.

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Spring Fever Is Real

The sun is shining, the weather has warmed. Poor Mrs. McSmith cannot keep her pupils in line. They are shooting spitballs, jumping off their desks, and talking out of turn; when they are quiet, they appear to be in a daydream daze. Do the kids need more Ritalin? Probably not. It might merely be a case of “Spring Fever.”

As we say goodbye to Winter and hello to warmer weather, we find a price tag for this transition: Spring Fever. But what is this mystery disease?

An Associated Press article (which appeared in the Kokomo Tribune way back on March 20th of 1987) enlightens us:

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SWOT Analysis, the Bible, and Personal Growth

SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. The analytical tool has been in use for around fifty years, and while some attribute the origin of the SWOT analysis to Stanford Research Institute’s Albert Humphrey, because he doesn’t take credit for it, the derivation of the device is not clear. Nonetheless, SWOT analysis has been a mainstay of organizational strategy, in part due to its simplicity and exposing power.

The device considers both internal and external factors to help identify areas of improvement and potential areas for emphasis. The SWOT analysis provides a concise snapshot of an organization’s present health as well as uncovering opportunities for refinement and growth. The internal factors considered are strengths and weaknesses. Identifying current strengths and weaknesses within the organization helps leaders assess how well the organization is meeting its mission or how badly it is missing the mark. On the external side, opportunities and threats are examined in order to evaluate climate and environment for that organization’s function. SWOT analysis is a tool that can help organizations monitor past and present performance (strengths and weaknesses) and to identify action points in anticipation of the future (opportunities and threats).

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What the Bible Contains for the Believer

(About this series)

CHAPTER X—What the Bible Contains for the Believer

BY REV. GEORGE F. PENTECOST, D. D., DARIEN, CONNECTICUT

1. The Bible is the Only Book That Can Make Us Wise unto Salvation.

The Bible is not a book to be studied as we study geology and astronomy, merely to find out about the earth’s formation and the structure of the universe; but it is a book revealing truth, designed to bring us into living union with God. We may study the physical sciences and get a fair knowledge of the facts and phenomena of the material universe; but what difference does it make to us, as spiritual beings, whether the Copernican theory of the universe is true, or that of Ptolemy? On the other hand, the eternal things of God’s Word do so concern us. Scientific knowledge, and the words in which that knowledge is conveyed, have no power to change our characters, to make us better, or give us a living hope of a blessed immortality; but the Word of God has in it a vital power, it is “quick and powerful”—living and full of Divine energy (Heb. 4:12)—and when received with meekness into our understanding and heart is able to save our souls (Jas. 1:18, 21), for it is the instrument of the Holy Spirit wherewith He accomplishes in us regeneration of character. The Word of God is a living seed containing within itself God’s own life, which, when it is received into our hearts, springs up within us and “brings forth fruit after its kind;” for Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God, is the living germ hidden in His written Word. Therefore it is written, “The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life” (John

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How to Grow as a Person

A Google search of the phrase “how to grow as a person” (or even just “grow as a person”) reveals 520 million related links. For points of reference, let’s look at the results of some other popular Google searches:

“how to make money”  426 million
“world peace” – 120 million
“the pope” – 176 million
“Donald Trump” – 334 million
“Star Wars” – 431 million

“How to grow as a person” is a topic much discussed (even more than Star Wars, and that is saying something!), with many diverse and often conflicting prescriptions. Cutting through the noise is a simple Biblical formula that allows us to access strength much greater than our own. Let’s take a look at that formula, beginning with John’s contrast of darkness and light.

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Memorizing the Word in 2016

The church leadership at Highland Park Church recently agreed to launch a congregation-wide Scripture memory plan. What follows is part of pastor Ed Vasicek’s commuication to the congregation, describing the plan and its purpose. Perhaps it may stimulate ideas for church-wide Scripture memory efforts in other churches as well. – Editor.

Camp Emmanuel is different from most “church camps” in that is more of a Bible camp than a church camp. The kids compete for team points through Scripture memory, and Bible is central. AWANA is different from many church clubs in that it, too, is centered on Bible memory.

But what about the rest of us? Is Bible memory only for kids who can memorize more readily? Are the rest of us spiritually over the hill when it comes to Bible memory? We may not be able to teach old dogs new tricks, but our church is not a dog park! We humans do learn and memorize more slowly as we age, but we can still learn—we just need to make sure the pole is not set too high.

The elders are happy to announce that Terry Watson will lead our church in a new emphasis for 2016: Memorizing the Word. The elders (of which Terry is one) are enthusiastic about this emphasis for 2016.

Psalm 119:11, 97-99 suggests that memorizing Scripture has a big part to play in our attempt to live with discernment, wisdom, and godliness:

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