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[…]

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[…]

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[…]

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[…]

​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[…]

A Dangerous Prayer that I’M GLAD WAS ANSWERED

a CHRISTMAS STORY Scene 1   October, 1978.  A shopping center parking lot in Indianapolis, before stores opened. The place I chose for an extended quiet time with the Lord. Having recently resigned an associate church staff position, God’s Spirit convicted me of pride, and the need for a more others-centered ministry in my next vocational role.  Read more about A Dangerous Prayer that I’M GLAD WAS ANSWERED[…]

3 REASONS YOU MIGHT NOT FINISH WELL IN MINISTRY

We’ve all heard the stories of leaders who didn’t finish well. Moral failure Bitterness or hardness of heart in latter years Complacency or coasting in latter years of ministry, figuring they’ve already paid their dues The painful consequences may include ruptured families, a besmirching of Christ’s reputation, and at the very least, little fruit late Read more about 3 REASONS YOU MIGHT NOT FINISH WELL IN MINISTRY[…]

3 WAYS LARRY RICHARDS CHANGED MY LIFE AND MINISTRY

Even giants pass away.  Larry Richards, who died October 16, 2016 at age 85, is a case in point.As a Christian Education student at Wheaton Graduate School (1971-72), I took two of his classes.  Far more formative was his prolific writing.  You can see a recent profile and his numerous book titles in an article Read more about 3 WAYS LARRY RICHARDS CHANGED MY LIFE AND MINISTRY[…]

4 “BUT GOD” VERSES TO FEED THE SOUL OF LEADERS AND VOLUNTEERS

“But” is a conjunction with impact.  It precedes a contrary opinion, or introduces a stark contrast to the first part of a sentence.  The term qualifies or completely negates what precedes it. *”I know I promised we’d get away this weekend, honey, but my boss expects this project on his desk Monday morning.”*”It’s been raining four Read more about 4 “BUT GOD” VERSES TO FEED THE SOUL OF LEADERS AND VOLUNTEERS[…]

2 TIPS FOR RECEIVING A COMPLIMENT FOR YOUR BIBLE TEACHING

 What Not To Say After A Compliment        Anyone to whom God has given the grace-gift of teaching will receive his or her share of verbal affirmations.  I’ve had folks praise me for the clarity of truths I convey, for my passion, and my emphasis on application.  Yet for a long time, due to a Read more about 2 TIPS FOR RECEIVING A COMPLIMENT FOR YOUR BIBLE TEACHING[…]

7 EFFECTIVE GET-ACQUAINTED OR TEAM-BUILDING IDEAS

Small group leaders, classroom Bible teachers, and leaders of staff meetings need to cultivate a warm, inviting atmosphere. Paying attention to the social climate will facilitate more interaction in Bible studies or enhance the contributions when the group members get to work. Here are ideas I’ve successfully implemented.1.    Item From Wallet or Purse   Ask Read more about 7 EFFECTIVE GET-ACQUAINTED OR TEAM-BUILDING IDEAS[…]

3 THINGS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT TEACHING 

If experience is the best teacher, I should have learned something by now about teaching and learning.  For 35 years, I’ve served as a faculty in Church Ministry at Columbia International University, complemented by hundreds of Sunday School lessons taught, sermons delivered, workshops led, and small group sessions facilitated.Though there’s plenty more I need to Read more about 3 THINGS I’VE LEARNED ABOUT TEACHING […]

3 CHALLENGING TRUTHS FOR TEACHERS OF BIBLE

What Bible truths nudge me toward excellence and prompt me to give ministry my best shot? What perspectives challenge, even convict me, especially in relation to teaching God’s Word?  Here are three of the answers. 1. God judges strictly those who communicate His Word. To read James 3:1 is sobering: “Let not many of you become teachers, Read more about 3 CHALLENGING TRUTHS FOR TEACHERS OF BIBLE[…]

  4 TRUTHS THAT KEEP ME GOING IN MINISTRY

Opposition to goals.Lack of visible results.Weariness from overwork.Spiritual warfare.Feelings of inadequacy.These are among the factors that siphon off joy and motivation in ministry.  What follows are four Bible truths that instill resiliency in me. I don’t offer these as panaceas for the difficulties of ministry, but as means of sustenance, perspectives that enable me to Read more about   4 TRUTHS THAT KEEP ME GOING IN MINISTRY[…]

ENHANCING YOUR CHURCH’S PRAYER MINISTRY

“What’s the secret to your success?” A visitor to his church posed that question to Charles Spurgeon.  Reportedly, Spurgeon took the man to a room where numerous persons were on their knees, interceding for that day’s worship service.  “That’s the secret,” admitted Spurgeon.How can leaders of a church expedite a resurgence of prayer? I’m gleaning the Read more about ENHANCING YOUR CHURCH’S PRAYER MINISTRY[…]

8 TIPS FOR GIVING CRITICISM

When you need to confront, especially as one Christian to another, or as a leader to someone you supervise, here are tips I’ve learned from 40-plus years in vocational ministry. 1.    Know the conditions for giving criticism. When is it necessary?*Is the person’s attitude or behavior dishonoring God, or in direct defiance of biblical commands/principles?*It Read more about 8 TIPS FOR GIVING CRITICISM[…]

9 TIPS FOR RESPONDING TO A CRITIC

The only surefire way to avoid criticism is to do nothing.  In a span of 45 years of ministry, here are response suggestions that I’ve learned the hard way.​1.     Not every critic or criticism merits a response. If I defend myself from every salvo, the effort siphons off time and energy needed elsewhere.  Ask the Read more about 9 TIPS FOR RESPONDING TO A CRITIC[…]

 5 TEAM-BUILDING IDEAS FOR STAFF MEETINGS, BOARDS, OR SMALL GROUPS

If you lead a group of Christ-followers, you’re on a safari for ways to enhance the relational atmosphere, even when it’s a task-oriented venue.  Occasionally I utilize a structured but creative activity that provides a social lubricant and increases bonding among participants.  Here are a few of my favorite team-building tools.  The best time to Read more about  5 TEAM-BUILDING IDEAS FOR STAFF MEETINGS, BOARDS, OR SMALL GROUPS[…]

The Autumn Years Of Marriage

A long marriage relationship doesn’t make or break one’s character; it merely exposes it. Those years constituting middle age and beyond are particularly revealing. That’s when the kids are in college or living on their own. The schedule no longer revolves around their school or sports’ activities. Then you’re forced to focus on the marriage Read more about The Autumn Years Of Marriage[…]