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How Can Weakness Be A Strength?

The Outrageously Fruitful Ministry of a Depression-Prone Man        For almost 40 years, James “Buck” Hatch served on the faculty of Columbia Bible College in South Carolina, teaching courses in Bible, hermeneutics, psychology, and family life. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of alumni of what is now Columbia International University consider him their favorite and most influential professor. Read more about How Can Weakness Be A Strength?[…]

SUFFERING SEEN THROUGH THE LENS OF SCRIPTURE

Vaneetha Risner’s The Scars That Have Shaped Me   I am not defined by what people have done or said to me. I am defined by who I am in Christ. God uses all of our suffering for our joy and for his glory. God’s refusals are always his mercies. When my life spins out Read more about SUFFERING SEEN THROUGH THE LENS OF SCRIPTURE[…]

DEPRESSION STATISTICS AREN’T NUMBERS, THEY’RE PEOPLE

The Prevalence and Symptoms of Major Depression Usually sanguine, sixteen-year-old Chad started locking himself in his room more often, texting and calling his friends far less frequently, and attending fewer school and church social functions. He’s sleeping more, even napping during the day for the first time in years. His recent report card revealed at Read more about DEPRESSION STATISTICS AREN’T NUMBERS, THEY’RE PEOPLE[…]

What Does It Look Like in the Dark?

My first recollection of it occurred on the back porch steps of my rural home in North Carolina. Nine or ten years old, I slumped, cried aloud for what seemed like an hour, tears cascading down my cheeks onto the steps, obscuring my view of the sun setting behind a mountain. An overwhelming sadness, a Read more about What Does It Look Like in the Dark?[…]

I Am Depressed, But God is Good

What follows is a journal entry from 2005.  The first part sounds bleak. I was knee-deep in a depressive episode  and couldn’t slog my way out.  I’m posting it to show you how depression expresses itself in the minds or emotions of some Christian workers you may know or encounter.  Yet it’s far from an Read more about I Am Depressed, But God is Good[…]

8 BIBLE PROMISES TO ENCOURAGE YOU

Why do you need encouragement? *Inadequacy for a called task or responsibility?*Weariness of mind, body, and spirit?*Battle fatigue over spiritual warfare?*Discouragement over an unmet goal or unanswered prayer?*Doubts about God’s love and faithfulness?*Conflict with someone you love?*Lack of fruitfulness in your ministry? These are just a few of the factors that threaten our joy or cause us to Read more about 8 BIBLE PROMISES TO ENCOURAGE YOU[…]

SURPRISED AT SUNRISE

God Penetrates Our Darkness with His Light.                                                                                        A lot of my writing strives to reconcile struggles, especially depression, with faith in a loving God.  But not even a melancholy person like me feels gloomy all the time.  No, sometimes God provides a serendipitous experience and my spirit unexpectedly soars. Like the day on my way to Read more about SURPRISED AT SUNRISE[…]

5 LESSER KNOWN WAYS THAT PRIDE SHOWS

Repeatedly in His Word, God warns about the encroachment of pride. That’s because, as John Wesley put it, “All pride is idolatry.” When we’re proud, how does it show? More obvious answers include boasting about accomplishments (even when we’re subtle about it during conversations); an unwillingness to accept unsolicited counsel or reproof; or an air Read more about 5 LESSER KNOWN WAYS THAT PRIDE SHOWS[…]

I’M TIRED OF THESE 7 LEADERSHIP BEHAVIORS

I’ll start by qualifying what I’m about to write. Most vocational church and parachurch leaders deserve more applause than they get.  They’re diligent, caring, teachable, committed to Christ and His church, and often underpaid in a job fraught with pressure and folks’ unrealistic expectations. I’ve served with godly men whose shoes I could never fill (despite Read more about I’M TIRED OF THESE 7 LEADERSHIP BEHAVIORS[…]

5 STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE

 God’s Word is first and foremost a message book, revealing the story and means of redemption. But it’s also a method book, in the broad sense of that term. Pastors, missionaries, teachers, and evangelists may glean from certain texts how-to ideas for fulfilling their calling, or traits/principles essential to completing their tasks. If you’re in Read more about 5 STRATEGIC LEADERSHIP PASSAGES IN THE BIBLE[…]

7 GUIDELINES TO HELP YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR GROUP BIBLE STUDY

Do you prepare your own small group Bible studies or Sunday School lessons? Do you receive published curriculum from your church, but typically revise the lessons in view of the characteristics of your particular group of learners? Do you strive for an interactive session that involves learners, rather than merely lecturing to them? If you Read more about 7 GUIDELINES TO HELP YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR GROUP BIBLE STUDY[…]

6 QUESTIONS FOR ENHANCING APPLICATION IN YOUR TEACHING OR PREACHING

The late Larry Richards, biblical scholar and Christian Education specialist, lamented that even good Bible teaching usually stops at the level of interpretation.  In Creative Bible Teaching, he viewed a focus on application as the missing element in much Bible teaching.  In The Seven Laws of the Learner, Bruce Wilkerson made the same point. To Read more about 6 QUESTIONS FOR ENHANCING APPLICATION IN YOUR TEACHING OR PREACHING[…]

6 PROMISES TO ENCOURAGE THOSE WHO SERVE

 Opposition. Weariness of mind, body, and spirit. Feelings of inadequacy. Discouragement over apparent lack of fruitfulness. What instills resiliency to face these and other obstacles to ministry motivation? For me, one answer is memorizing timeless promises in God’s Word.  The six promises that follow provide high octane fuel that keeps me going.  1.  1 Corinthians 15:58   Read more about 6 PROMISES TO ENCOURAGE THOSE WHO SERVE[…]

7 THINGS TO DO WHILE WAITING ON GOD

Puzzling. Frustrating. Gut-wrenching. When we’re waiting on God to act, those words describe us.  We may be waiting for provision of a new job; for God to woo a grown child back to faith; for Him to open the womb for a baby desperately wanted, or to bless us with a wife or husband.  From Read more about 7 THINGS TO DO WHILE WAITING ON GOD[…]

5 WAYS TO HONOR THE LADY OF THE HOUSE ON MOTHER’S DAY

The majestic Statue of Liberty towers above the entrance to New York harbor.  The French government gave it to the United States.  A sculptor named Bartholdi spent twenty years and a lot of his own money to finish the project.  When he looked for a human model whose facial features he could reproduce as “Lady Read more about 5 WAYS TO HONOR THE LADY OF THE HOUSE ON MOTHER’S DAY[…]

5 TRAITS OF PRODUCTIVE BIBLE TEACHING

Whether your venue for communication is the pulpit, a classroom, or a small group meeting in a home, effectiveness requires application of five characteristics.  Use these guidelines to evaluate your  teaching and group leadership. 1.     CLARITY  Are my words ambiguous or fuzzy, resulting in frowns of confusion on the faces of learners?  Do I Read more about 5 TRAITS OF PRODUCTIVE BIBLE TEACHING[…]

1 APPLICATION OF JESUS’ DEATH AND RESURRECTION

​So what? According to Johnny Miller, former pastor and past President of Columbia International University, that’s the most important question to ask when we study the Bible. The text says this (observation).  So what? The text means this (interpretation).  So what?   This second “So what?” should lead us to implications of the truth for our Read more about 1 APPLICATION OF JESUS’ DEATH AND RESURRECTION[…]

8 EXAMPLES OF BIBLE HEROES WHO WEPT

​Most Christian leaders feel embarrassed and apologetic when they cry, particularly if it’s in public.  We tend to equate weeping with emotional instability, loss of self-control, and fragility that’s the polar opposite of strong leadership. But God’s Word offers a different perspective.  What follows are a few of the faith heroes whose tears made rivulets Read more about 8 EXAMPLES OF BIBLE HEROES WHO WEPT[…]

3 Principles for Change in a Church

  Integral to leadership is serving as a change agent.  Yet leaders often fail in the way they implement  new ideas.  Unwise approaches often sabotage great ideas.  Applying the three principles that follow may expedite acceptance of your changes. I’m aware of a lot more principles of change, but these three deserve top-shelf priority.    People don’t trust Read more about 3 Principles for Change in a Church[…]

10 QUESTIONS I WISH I HAD ASKED MY DAD

   My dad, a textile mill worker in rural North Carolina, loved Jesus passionately. Forced to drop out of school in the seventh grade to go to work, after coming to Christ as a young man, he studied the Bible voraciously. Dad taught an adult Bible study class, wrote poems about faith, and often wept when Read more about 10 QUESTIONS I WISH I HAD ASKED MY DAD[…]

4 TIPS FOR GROUP DISCUSSION OF A BOOK OTHER THAN THE BIBLE

   ​Small groups and adult classes often discuss books by Christian authors, one or two chapters at a time.  The next time your group chooses a book to read—and it doesn’t come with a study guide or questions for group interaction – the following ideas may help you. QUESTIONS TO EXAMINE THE GENERAL CONTENT  Pick Read more about 4 TIPS FOR GROUP DISCUSSION OF A BOOK OTHER THAN THE BIBLE[…]

6 TRUTHS TO HELP YOU SERVE STRONGER

Joy-sapping workloads, feelings of inadequacy, lack of apparent fruitfulness, and battle fatigue from spiritual warfare are some of the foes that threaten ministry motivation and endurance. Here are six truths that infuse me with biblical perspective and buoy my flagging spirit. 1. No matter what circumstances you face in your ministry, God’s presence is a constant reality.       Read more about 6 TRUTHS TO HELP YOU SERVE STRONGER[…]

2 CONFESSIONS OF A PROFESSIONAL CHRISTIAN

 I’ve always viewed my call from God to vocational ministry as a high privilege. Since I turned 19, forty-eight years ago, my only means of earning a living has been ministry venues: church staff, denominational trainer, writer, and Christian university professor. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention a couple of hazards.     Read more about 2 CONFESSIONS OF A PROFESSIONAL CHRISTIAN[…]

4 THINGS I WISH I HAD DONE DIFFERENTLY IN MINISTRY

 At 67, I am more prone to reflect on the past, especially my various ministry roles and key relationships.  Here are four regrets, or things I wish I had handled differently.        1.   I wish I had “picked more brains.”  ​When it comes to taking classes, attending a conference, or reading a Read more about 4 THINGS I WISH I HAD DONE DIFFERENTLY IN MINISTRY[…]

3 THINGS NOT TO SAY TO A DEPRESSED PERSON

 I can’t remember a time when chronic depression wasn’t a nemesis for me.  As a child I often felt an overwhelming sadness and wept without understanding why.  Now I’m a 67-year-old Christian college professor who still wanders occasionally into the dark fog of hopelessness.  As an adult, a number of acquaintances have said things to Read more about 3 THINGS NOT TO SAY TO A DEPRESSED PERSON[…]

The Disabled and the Church

Dr. Johnny Miller            If the worship leader starts by trumpeting, “Let’s all stand to worship God this morning,” I flinch.  This worship service probably isn’t going to include me.  Again.             That’s because I’m physically disabled.  I’m unable to stand for long periods to sing, or pray, or greet visitors, or read Scripture.  Just being Read more about The Disabled and the Church[…]

4 BIBLE VERSES THAT CHALLENGE TEACHERS OF BIBLE

 What keeps us from taking our Bible teaching for granted?  From growing lax when it comes to preparation?  What keeps the process from becoming stale and our enthusiasm from waning? Answers to those questions include the challenges to teachers nestled within the pages of the Bible we communicate.  Here are four verses that keep nudging Read more about 4 BIBLE VERSES THAT CHALLENGE TEACHERS OF BIBLE[…]

11 SELF-ASSESSMENT QUESTIONS FOR BIBLE TEACHERS AND GROUP LEADERS

An exercise I’ve long advocated for leaders and teachers is “exegeting your experiences.”  When a person exegetes a Bible passage, he or she takes out what is inherently there, as intended by the Holy Spirit, using the principles of hermeneutics. Whether you implemented a retreat, led a missions conference, or taught an interactive Bible study Read more about 11 SELF-ASSESSMENT QUESTIONS FOR BIBLE TEACHERS AND GROUP LEADERS[…]

8 QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU DETERMINE IF YOU’VE REALLY FORGIVEN SOMEONE

We can fool ourselves into thinking we’ve forgiven another person, when resentment still simmers beneath the surface of our hearts.  I know this from painful experience.    Warning:  asking ourselves these questions may spur repentance toward God for our bitterness, and confession to the person who’s the object of resentment. To glean the most from the Read more about 8 QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU DETERMINE IF YOU’VE REALLY FORGIVEN SOMEONE[…]

​4 TRAITS OF A GREAT LEARNER

What qualities facilitate lifelong learning as a Christ-follower or vocational Christian leader?  What traits expedite success as a college or seminary student?  My 36 years as a faculty member at Columbia International University prompts me to focus on these four characteristics of effective learners. 1.  Inquisitiveness This is a “want to know” mindset, an insatiable Read more about ​4 TRAITS OF A GREAT LEARNER[…]

6 QUESTIONS TO DETERMINE IF YOU OR YOUR PROTÉGÉ HAS THE SPIRITUAL GIFT OF TEACHING

I’ve heard that with effective training, any Christian will become a successful Bible teacher. I don’t believe that for a second. Forty-five years of training Bible study leaders, both in the classroom and one-to-one, have convinced me that you cannot put out what God’s Spirit has not put within.  There is a spiritual gift of Read more about 6 QUESTIONS TO DETERMINE IF YOU OR YOUR PROTÉGÉ HAS THE SPIRITUAL GIFT OF TEACHING[…]

6 Ways to Teach or to Preach for the Heart

Can we cooperate with the Holy Spirit in shuttling truth from the minds of people, to their hearts? Does how we prepare and present truth help determine whether we impact the affective domain of learners? I will give a qualification to my answer in the first point that follows, but my response is “Yes.” The next logical question is Read more about 6 Ways to Teach or to Preach for the Heart[…]

4 Truths to Encourage Teachers of Bible

For teachers and Preachers of all Age Levels   Who needs a jolt of encouragement more than the Sunday School teacher or preacher?  May these insights buoy your spirit and instill resiliency to keep on serving strong. 1.       You are investing in the two things that last forever:  the Word of God, and people.        Word Read more about 4 Truths to Encourage Teachers of Bible[…]

four more things I’ve learned for sure

This is a follow-up to a November 28, 2016 post, “10 THINGS I’VE LEARNED FOR SURE.”  Here are four more insights that only time and experience have taught me. As you read, ponder:  Which truth is most applicable to me now?  What logical applications stems from this insight? 1. The human body always collects its debts.       Whether Read more about four more things I’ve learned for sure[…]

10 questions your accountability partner should ask you

For Patrick Morley, “Accountability is to be regularly answerable for each of the key areas of our lives to qualified people.” According to Charles Swindoll, “Accountability is giving one or more trusted persons the permission to ask you the hard questions.” Seeking someone to hold you accountable for growth and holiness requires humility and transparency.  Read more about 10 questions your accountability partner should ask you[…]

20 QUESTIONS TO ASk A MENTOR

Whether you’re a homemaker, a businessman, or a vocational Christian leader, I hope you regularly pick the brains of older, mature people whose walk with the Lord you respect. Tapping into their wisdom and experience is a hinge on which your growth and effectiveness will turn. Select a few of the questions that follow to Read more about 20 QUESTIONS TO ASk A MENTOR[…]