4 Purposes of Illustrations in Faith Conversations

Most of us can regurgitate Christianese taught in church, but what is not always easy is engaging in deeper, spiritual conversations.

Sometimes we tend to listen just long enough to find a point in the conversation where we can interject with our own ideas. But conversation with our children, family, & friends requires attentive listening, as well as thought-filled answers. Read more

Why the Gospel Matters in 2017

As 2016 came to an end, several of us found ourselves grieving over the harsh realities of our fallen world — mass shootings, Zika, civil unrest, terror attacks, Aleppo, corruption in politics, the refugee crisis in Europe, and lives over far too quickly.

To sum it all up one woman made a “dumpster fire ornament” and tweeted “Dear 2016: I made you this ornament. It’s a dumpster fire.” People identified with her sentiments, and it went viral. Read more

9 Life Changing Truths about Eternal Life

  1. Eternal life was promised before time began — “In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2).
  2. Eternal life is a gift from God — “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 John 5:11).
  3. Eternal life means our debt against God is paid in full — “…It is finished…” (John 19:30).
  4. Eternal life comes with forgiveness for all our sins: past, present, and future — “In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14).
  5. Eternal life means we are new creations — “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Cor. 5:17).
  6. Eternal Life means Abundant life — “…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
  7. Eternal life comes with the promised seal of the Holy Spirit — “…having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise,  who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:13–14).
  8. Eternal life means we are ambassadors for Christ — “Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God” (2 Cor. 5:20).
  9.  Eternal life cannot be taken away — “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:28).

(Note: This originally appeared here on EvanTell’s blog.)

Christmas Movie Lessons: Home Alone

The comedy Home Alone stars 8-year-old Keven McAlister (Macaulay Culkin), who accidentally gets left at home when his family goes to Paris for Christmas. Sounds a little improbable, right? But if you’ve watched the movie, you know that it only gets more improbable from there.

Kevin fights off Harry and Marv—two dimwitted burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern)—with death defying booby traps. We all winced when Marv stepped on a nail barefoot and probably begin to wonder if they were really human after Harry’s head got burned by a blowtorch. But in the midst of all its farcical humor, some spiritual elements creep in. Read more

Christmas Movie Lessons: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,

At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,

When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,

And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Over the years, I’ve come to see Christmas in a new light. Magical to me as a child. Mixed feelings during parts of my adulthood. Now, a time of hope and waiting.

The people of God have long been familiar with the concept of waiting. After the prophet Malachi concluded his message from the Lord, it was 400 years before the advent of Jesus the Messiah. Read more

3 Things the Life of Daniel Teaches us about Troubled Times

From foreign rulers invading his home to keeping company with lions, the life of Daniel showcases God’s sovereign control. As the book of Daniel begins, King Nebuchadnezzar besieges Jerusalem and takes many of the young men back to Babylon, including Daniel.

Fast forward a few thousand years and we may not all face lions or invasion, but we do still struggle with a chaotic world.

How can believers learn from Daniel’s actions? Read more

Boaz: A Picture of Christ

Dirt Road in FieldsI had the privilege of writing this article for the recently released Evangelism Study Bible done by EvanTell and Kregel. I think it ties in well with this week’s theme.

Many view the story of Ruth and Boaz as a classic love story but it is so much more. Throughout the book they both express love and devotion to others primarily by their actions rather than words or emotion. They expressed genuine concern for the welfare of others, not asking God to intervene on their own behalf but instead focused on meeting the needs of others. Their actions parallel the covenant-loyalty God showed to His people throughout the Old Testament (1:8; 2:20; 3:10).

Further, Boaz’ role as a kinsman-redeemer who stepped in and paid a price to redeem Ruth and Naomi has often been compared to Christ, who redeemed believers through His death and resurrection on our behalf. As Boaz was a redeemer for Ruth so Christ is to us in a greater spiritual and eternal way.

The following chart demonstrates four requirements Boaz met as Ruth’s kinsman-redeemer and four requirements that Christ met as our kinsman-redeemer.

Boaz Christ
Related to Ruth and Naomi (Lev. 25:48; 25:25; Ruth 3:12–13) Related to humanity through the incarnation (Rom. 8:3; Heb. 2:17)
Capable of redeeming (Ruth 4:4–6) Capable of redeeming (2 Cor. 8:9)
Voluntary (Ruth 4:6) Voluntary (John 10:17–18)
Paid the price in full (Lev. 25:27; Ruth 4:7–11) Paid the price in full (John 19:30; Heb. 10:12)

It is our privilege to tell others of our redeemer, Jesus Christ, inviting them to experience the same redemption and relationship we have with Him by grace through faith.

Thoughts on “Autopsy of a Deceased Church”

I recently finished an interesting resource called “Autopsy of a Deceased Church,” where author Thom S. Rainer utilizes his many years of experience in church ministry as a pastor and consultant to write about common trends in declining churches.

Rainer divides his book into two parts: (1) The Autopsy and (2) Is There Hope for the Dying Church?

The first part begins with an introduction and then devotes the following chapters to 10 symptoms of a declining church: (1) slow erosion, (2) the past is the hero, (3) the church refused to look like the community, (4) the budget moved inwardly, (5) the great commission becomes the great omission, (6) the preference driven church, (7) pastoral tenure decreases, (8) the church rarely prayed together, (9) the church had no clear purpose, and (10) the church obsessed over facilities.

The second part focuses on what to do if your church shows symptoms of decline.

Larry Moyer, Founder and CEO of EvanTell and a regular reader of books on spiritual topics, sat down to share some of his reflections with me on Rainer’s recent book.

Who could benefit the most from reading “Autopsy of a Deceased Church?”
New pastors who want to know the pitfalls that often face the local church as well as seasoned pastors who sense something is wrong but not sure what. Read more

A Starbucks Parable and Church Visitors

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own church bubbles, that we miss how uncomfortable we sometimes make it for visitors.

I recently viewed a short clip called “What If Starbucks Marketed Like a Church? A Parable.

Part of the genius of this video is its setting. When elements of church life are put into a satirical coffee shop story, it suddenly becomes easier to recognize those awkward moments in our own churches. Read more