When things go wrong, GOD still has a Plan

GROVE, OK (ANS - March 12, 2017) -- "A person's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand their own way?" -- Proverbs 20:24 (NIV). To do list 2For nine months, I argued with God. I didn't want to move from the area where I'd lived for 35 years. I'd taught school there for 30 years. Planning my retirement, I wanted to write newspaper and magazine feature stories for local, state and national publications. I'd also planned to grow my professional photography business of 20

Celebrating the Unsearchable Greatness of God: Reflections on Psalm 145 (Part Two)

In the previous article we looked at the unsearchable greatness of God. So, how does one respond to such a God? Needless to say, such splendor, majesty, mercy and call for the loudest and most passionate of praise. We are to extol him (v. 1a), which literally means "to be high." God is high and we acknowledge and declare it so. We don't make him higher than he already and always is. But we can declare him to be infinitely high and worthy of praise. Thus to extol is to exalt above all others,

Celebrating the Unsearchable Greatness of God: Reflections on Psalm 145

You can't not worship. Ignore my use of the ungrammatical double negative and try to understand what I'm saying. You can't not worship. Or to put it yet another way, "we can't not love something ultimate" (James K. A. Smith, You Are What You Love, 20). You may choose not to sing. You may choose not to bow down. You may choose not to lift your hands. You may choose not to give any outward or physical expression to your devotion, but you can't not worship.

In Faith Leadership, Some Days We Walk Blindly

Recently I came across a journal entry from January, 2005. I talked about some of the goals I had for the year and my progress and lack thereof towards meeting them. I shared some current frustrations I was having in ministry. I then asked God to help me be more disciplined. Then I read the last sentence of that day's journal. I wrote, "God, at 41 years of age, some days it feels that I'm not accomplishing anything."

Turning the Tables!

DONCASTER, UK (ANS - March 8, 2017) -- As Iran's supreme leader calls for a "holy intifada" to eradicate Israel, Jews everywhere can be encouraged that the tables were turned on a man from the same part of the world when he made a similar threat. As we approach the annual Jewish feast of Purim, we recall the plot to destroy all Jews living in the ancient and far-reaching Persian Empire. The man behind it was Haman, political aide to King Xerxes, but thanks to the intervention of Queen Esther,

10 Things you should know about Biblical Worship

Worship is a subject on which everyone has a personal opinion. We all know what we like and dislike. So it may appear silly for me to summarize in ten points what a biblical approach to worship should entail. Silly or not, here goes. (1) From biblical texts such as 1 Samuel 16:14-23 we learn that music in the hands or from the mouth of someone who is filled with the Spirit and devoted to God's glory can exert great power in the spiritual realm. We read in 1 Samuel 16:23 - "And whenever the ha

Gentleness, much more than a Personality Trait

Gentleness is probably not on the top of your list of important, immediate goals to accomplish. Perhaps this is because you see gentleness primarily as a personality trait. This is the point where gentleness is often misunderstood. Gentleness is all about the wise use of power. This is huge for parents.

7 Leadership Principles Life Has Taught Me

I love principles. Perhaps this is one reason I spend so much time reading Proverbs. Principles aren't always "guaranteed", but they are often proven by time and experience. Principles can help us learn from one another. We can benefit from another person's experience. Here are a few principles of ministry I've experienced: Just because you can do something better, doesn't mean you did anything wrong. We shouldn't be afraid of critical thinking or observations. Granted, some people are

Which Jesus do you want?

WILLIAMSPORT, PA (ANS - March 9, 2017) -- As we prepare our hearts this year for Lent, let us go back in our hearts to that Black Friday nearly two thousand years ago. The Roman Governor Pontius Pilate presented before the crowd two men: One man named Barabbas and the other Jesus. Pilate declared: "It is your custom that I free one prisoner to you at Passover! Which do you choose?" "Give us Barabbas!," the angry mob cried.

CNN's Finding Jesus Series: What do you Believe?

MOUNT HERMON, CA (ANS - March 4, 2017) - What's your take on New Testament stories about Jesus' life and death and their aftermath? Did the events described really happen, or are they merely inspirational fables about a great man? For many years, I was skeptical. CNN's second season of Finding Jesus: Faith, Fact, Forgeryappears to be designed with questioners like me in mind. Episode One (March 5) notes archaeological confirmation of a famous biblical character. A stone discovered in 1961

Why Lent Is for All Christians

A common misconception about the Christian season of Lent is that it's only for the other Christians: the Catholic Christians, the super-spiritual Christians, the Orthodox Christians, or the millennial Christians who've decided they love liturgy and incense. But Lent isn't just for a select few Christians. Indeed, all Christians are invited to participate in this spiritually formative season - not to earn their salvation, but to internalize what it means to be saved. We need a spiritual sprin

Does the Church need to be Relevant or does it need to be True?

This isn't an article about modern vs. traditional church music. It isn't about steeples or Sunday School. It isn't about vain repetition or the need to bring back hats in church. It isn't about any of the silly stuff that should have left a long time ago. It's an article about why Christianity needs to be set apart if we are going to survive. I'm a direct product of 40 years of bringing the traditional church into contemporary society. I remember the first time a guy with shoulder length hai

4 Ways to Help Teens Keep Their Faith After They Graduate

We've all read the scary statistics of teenagers who evacuate their Christian faith after they graduate from high school. I've read statistics as high as 85% and some as low as 50%. But regardless of the actual number all of us can agree that any is too many! We want as many of our teenagers' faith as possible to, not just survive, but to thrive long after they leave high school!

Stepping where Moses Stepped

SAUDI ARABIA (ANS - March 4, 2017) - Just ten years ago, to the day, I was standing on the coastal strip of the Red Sea at Sharm El Sheikh. I was gazing across the water at Saudi Arabia and picturing a little girl growing up as a slave in Egypt. I was thinking about how a mother tells her daughter that they are about to walk through the sea on dry ground to escape Pharaoh's terrifying pursuit.

Knowing Christ in Conflict

Whether it is in the play room or at the negotiating table peace is often defined as the absence of conflict. So, terms are sought to minimize or eliminate conflict. But this is a futile pursuit. A mom knows that discord and self-service rules young hearts. People are born at war with God and with each other (Ephesians 2:1-3). Thus, the goal for achieving peace cannot be the absence of conflict. Rather, for Christians, our goal must be to know Christ in the middle of the conflict. The Bible t

Experiencing the Joy of Jesus

It's one thing to be filled with the joy that comes from earthly comforts or accomplishments. The joy of winning the game or completing a project is truly a wonderful thing. But nothing can compare to the experience in one's heart of the very joy that filled the heart of Jesus. In John 15:11Jesus said this: "These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full." He virtually repeats himself in John 17:13 - "But now I am coming to you, and these things I spe

4 Ways to Start Memorizing Scripture

Our oldest son texted me New Year's Day this year. He wanted to practice memorizing Scripture again this year. He's been out of college for several years and fell out of the habit. He used to do it regularly when he was in high school. he wanted to know if I have any tips. Of course, he already knew I'm fairly simple-minded, so my response may be overly simplistic, but I think it may have been what he was seeking. Here's what I shared with him.

Gentleness is Grace and Power

Gentleness is God's answer to conflict. Gentleness is the quality you need to present God's truth fairly, accurately and effectively to your children. Gentleness is part of the Holy Spirit's fruit which stands in direct contrast to the works of the flesh. In Proverbs, gentleness turns aside wrath. Paul tells Timothy to instruct his opponents with gentleness. James describes being gentle as displaying wisdom from above. Jesus describes himself as gentle and humble of heart. These are five robust

10 things you should know about Martin Luther

Much will be said and written about Martin Luther in 2017, inasmuch as this is the 500th anniversary of his posting of the 95 theses on the church door at Wittenberg, an event that many believe launched the Protestant Reformation. But here are ten things about Luther you may not know.

A Time to Pray for Repentance & Mercy

God commands that you and I pray for our land and for our leaders. Specifically, we are to pray for hearts to turn in repentance to God and also to cry out for God's mercy to fall upon a land which would have him not. It is far too easy to complain and to grumble. It is the simple way out just to be unhappy with lifestyles that scorn God's laws. However, God has called us to compassion and to the mercy of gospel grace. Let us seek his great name in prayer to bring about repentance, mercy and gra

7 Things To Do in the Spiritually Dry Times of Life

Recently I wrote about what to do during the times God is silent. It seemed there was more to be said. As I read the Scriptures - and consider my own journey with God - those times are frequent for God's children. Sometimes it is even more than the silence of God. Sometimes I am silent in my own spiritual life. I'm not growing. I'm not as passionate about my walk as I once was. Spiritually speaking, I am stagnated.

7 Things To Do While You are Waiting on God

I’ve spent much of my walk with God waiting. Waiting for Him to give direction. Waiting on Him to open doors. Waiting on Him to make things clearer. Waiting on Him to supply the needed resources.

Why we need reminders of God's Faithfulness

GROVE, OK (ANS – February 26, 2017) -- “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us’”-- 1 Samuel 7:12 (NKJV).

God's Favourite Name is "Father"

An excerpt from Max's Worship Night in America message... Of all his names, Father is God's favorite. We know he loves this name most because this is the one he used most. While on earth, Jesus called God "Father" over two hundred times. In his first recorded words Jesus explained, "Didn't you know that I must be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49). In his final triumphant prayer he proclaims, "Father, I give you my life" (Luke 23:46). In the Gospel of John alone, Jesus repeats this name 156 t