How Your Online Holiday Shopping Can Help Church In The Word [Amazon Smile Tutorial]

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How Your Online Holiday Shopping Can Help Church In The Word [Amazon Smile Tutorial]

I love Christmas gifts. I love finding the perfect gift for someone. I even like wrapping presents and arranging them under the tree.

(Every year at our house has a theme or color scheme. I'm not kidding. One year it was brown paper and strips of red flannel for ribbon. One year it was all white and silver. One year—before I had a kid—I shaped name tags out of red and green pipe cleaners. Martha Stewart would have been proud.)

But I have zero time for driving from store to store, fighting crowds, waiting in long lines, etc. And I know that patience is a fruit of the Spirit, but it's one that is not native to my heart's soil so it's taking some time ... 

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What are the five fold ministries?

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What are the five fold ministries?

This blog post is part of our "You Asked For It" where we tackle the questions our church body submitted. You can also check out the sermons in this series.

Though the Bible does not give a definition of the “Five-Fold Gifts,” the presence or absence of these gifts is obvious to even a casual church observer. If a church is fulfilling its mandate to “possess the gates of her enemy,” (Genesis 22:17 & 24:60) it is because she is making disciples who become effective marketplace warriors, making disciples of all nations.

This brief summary cannot do justice to the subject, however, if you read my book: “The Abominable Snowman—God’s Gift of Apostolic Leadership to the Church,” you will find much more information and a staunch defense for the critical importance these gifts that Jesus gave when He was ascending back to the Father in Ephesians 4:1-16.


The Apostolic gift resides in the holiest of holies—not because it’s better than the other gifts, but because it’s first in God’s set order according to I Corinthians 12:28, “And God has appointed these in the church:  first apostles, second prophets, third teachers…”

The gifts of Prophet and Teacher flow in the holy place.  In the holy place was the table of showbread, the Word of Life.  The teacher has the responsibility to feed the flock the “bread of life,” God’s Word.  The golden candlestick represents the prophet.  The holy place is completely dark until the priest lights the golden candlestick.  The prophet’s primary responsibility is bringing light-revelation to the Word.  I believe we have too many self-appointed prophets today who want to be foretellers and not enough forth-tellers, turning the logos, the entirety of God’s Word, into Rhema, a specific word under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

The gift of Pastor functions in the outer court at the brazen altar, the altar of sin-sacrifice.  This altar is the place where sinners come for the forgiveness of sin and healing from the effects of sin.  This gift helps broken people become healthy and whole.  The pastoral gift prepares people to receive the Word (Logos) from the teacher and correction from the prophet.

The gift of Evangelist creates the flow of people from the marketplace into the outer court of the church.  The passion of the evangelist for the lost populates the Church.  This gift brings people to the sin altar and under the care of the pastoral gift.  It is the beginning of salvations journey, but certainly not the end.  If a church is not growing in numbers, do not blame the pastor, get the evangelist gift mature and operating and growth is guaranteed.

1.  Without the Apostolic Gift - the Church remains "Un-Fathered." Father's lay foundations, keep things in order and maintain a focus for the future. For the Church to grow and advance the Kingdom this gift must occupy the senior leadership position. Whoever leads, regardless of title, if they do not possess the apostolic gift the congregation never reaches its full potential. When this gift leads, all the other gifts are more effective.

2.  Without the Prophetic Gift - the Church remains "Un-Corrected." Prophets are "seers." They know when things are wrong and are motivated to make it right. Their primary value is bringing Rhema to the logos. They can speak prophetically but it is not their primary calling. There are too many forecasters and not enough forth tellers.

3.  Without the Teacher Gift - the Church remains "Un-Taught." The people remain ignorant of the Word and struggle becoming disciples -"faithful following learners of Christ."  Teachers are energized by the "line upon line, precept upon precept" world. They love to study and present "Truth." They create Truth tensions. For every Truth, there is an equal and opposite Truth, that keeps all Truth in a healthy tension. 

4.  Without the Pastoral Gift - the Church remains "Un-Shepherded." The people are not cared for seldom overcoming the effects of sin. They are vulnerable and helpless. God never intended for the Pastoral gift to lead the church. By definition, those gifted to shepherd the folk are managers of the present - not creators of the future.  Tradition has ruined many "pastors" by expecting them to lead without the gift all strategic leaders must have. They serve best under someone with an apostolic gift, regardless their title. 

5.  Without the Evangelist Gift - the Church remains "Un-Populated." Evangelism begins with Believers praying a simple one-sentence prayer daily, "Lord, help me be sensitive to those you put in my life today." The qualities of awareness and sensitivity are more valuable in reaching the lost than boldness and aggression.  Not everyone has the gift of evangelism, but according to Paul's admonition to Timothy all believers are responsible to "do the work of an evangelist." 

Dr. Robinson currently serves as a leadership and management coach for leaders in churches, organizations and the marketplace. He travels over 200 days per year in the USA and overseas helping leaders see their vision become a reality. Find out more at his website: www.coaching4ministers.com

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Why do bad things happen to good people?

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Why do bad things happen to good people?

This blog post is part of our "You Asked For It" where we tackle the questions our church body submitted. You can also check out the sermons in this series.

Why do bad things happen to good people?

If you are asking this question, I want to acknowledge the fact that you are deeply hurting. Please, know that your feelings of hurt are valid. However, I want to challenge you to ask a different question. See, if we knew why bad things happen to good people, would we be satisfied? I would venture to say that knowing why bad things happen to faithful people would not suffice; we would demand justice or the removal of the painful circumstance.

So if we are no longer asking why bad things happen to good people, let us press into this somewhat unsettling idea of the beauty of suffering. Yes, I said it. Suffering is beautiful.

Although I have suffered far less than many of you, I have still had my share of suffering, and the Lord was instructive through it.

Here are a few things I've learned in the last few months:

1. Amidst suffering we feel empty, but we are overflowing.

In Psalm 23, the psalmist details walking through "the valley of the shadow of death," yet in the next verse, he is resting in the reality that his "cup overflows." Now, I don't know what a valley of the shadow of death is (nor do I want to know!), but it sounds utterly devoid and hopeless. Yet the Lord in His goodness promises to fill our cup even in the dark night of the soul. As we suffer, let us rest in the reality that we are, indeed, overflowing.

2. Suffering is communal.

Scripture calls us to bear one another's burdens (Galatians 6:2). Christians are called to be distinguished by their love for one another (John 13:36), and one of the ways that we can love others well is by selflessly caring for them. This requires vulnerability and humility on the end of the sufferer, as they must be bold enough to seek help and brave enough to share their raw story.

3. Christians aren’t called to a painless life, but are called to suffer well.

When Christians suffer, they suffer differently than the rest of the world. They suffer better. Hebrews 6:19 assures us that hope in Christ anchors our soul. When a boat is anchored, it is tossed about by the waves of the sea so it will drift a bit, but ultimately it is held "firm and secure" and it will not leave the region in which it is anchored. Often we try to anchor ourselves by our own feeble will-power, but there is freedom in Christ being our anchor.  There is safety in being held steady by the Steady One.

4. We are budding with life, even when we are in a dark season.

I was teeming with life, but I just didn’t know it.

I was walking on the sidewalk this past Winter, and I pulled a twig off of a bare bush that was held tightly in Winter’s grasp, as it looked dead and lifeless.  The Lord really ministered to me through that stick.  Although it looked dead on the outside, I looked at the inside of the stick and it was green.  I smelled it, and it had that earthy plant smell to it.  I find that I relate all too well to that stick.  Amidst suffering, I looked dead and I felt dead, but the Lord was at work in me.  I was teeming with life, but I just didn’t know it.

 If you are suffering, it is my sincere hope that you press into Christ.  Allow the Father to hold you in His loving embrace.  Trust that He is present even if you don’t feel Him.  In my season of suffering, I pictured Christ weeping next to me.  The God of the universe who created you and knows you fully desires to enter into your suffering and to comfort you in your pain.  Please know that you are loved.  Amidst the suffering and pain, Christ is steady and secure.

I invite you to read the remainder of this blog over yourself as a reminder of Christ’s love.  It is written from God’s perspective:

Please don't buy into the lie that I dwell more fully in the moments of rejoicing and celebration than in the moments of pain and suffering. I know what it is to mourn. I know what it is to grieve. Let Me cry with you. Let Me hold you. Let Me sustain you in My steady love.

When John was preparing the way for My arrival, he baptized in the desert, meaning there was a source of refreshing water amidst the desolate, hopeless land. Child, when all you see for miles is sand and your problems seem to consume you, remember where your victory comes from. I'm your Rock. I'm your Source. I'm your Protector and Provider. Call on Me and I will carry you through that desert.
I will lead you beside streams of water. Let My presence refresh you.

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How Can I Hear God's Voice Specific for Me?

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How Can I Hear God's Voice Specific for Me?

This blog post is part of our "You Asked For It" where we tackle the questions our church body submitted. You can also check out the sermons in this series.

How does God speak? In the biblical days as well as today, he speaks through people, nature, circumstances, events, prophecy, tongues, gifts of the Holy Spirit, supernatural experiences etc…

However, primarily God can and does speak through His written word (in ancient biblical Greek this was called the Logos). Then there is another Greek word which is called rhema. Some describe this as “a word from the word”. A rhema word is the supernatural revelation that God gives about your present day situation based on the written word or logos. Thus, the written word revealed as rhema by the Holy Spirit is the ultimate standard or measuring stick by which we determine if any spiritual or supernatural experience is actually from God.  

For example Jesus said this in Mathew 4:4 “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” There are two important things to note. First the word is translated as rhema in this scripture. Secondly the proceedeth means that God is speaking presently. Seven times in the book of Revelation Jesus says“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches”.  This is past and future but it can also mean present tense. Yes God is speaking to the body of Christ as a whole but also wants to speak to you as an individual.

God is always speaking… The question is are we listening?

What that tells me is that God is always speaking… The question is are we listening? With all the competing voices (people, God, ourselves even the voice of the enemy) how do we know that what we are hearing or experiencing is from God and meant specifically for us?  Scripture gives us some insights. 

First, God has given us the spirit of truth who is the Holy Spirit.  Remember, the Holy Spirit is God and He lives inside of us. As the spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit performs the following ministries…

1. “he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” (John 14:26)

2. the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: (John 15:26)

3. he will shew you things to come. (John 16:13)

Secondly, the Holy Spirit also gives us direction for our lives Isaiah 30:21 offers us a very important clue

“And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left.”  

Finally, we can discern the voice of God by knowing the “heart” of God. Jeremiah 29:11-13 says

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.  Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart”.

God is love (1 John 4:1-21) and when He speaks His instructions are always motivated by his love for you. Remember…good God, bad devil…

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4 Pastor Approved Ways to Use Your Phone in Church

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4 Pastor Approved Ways to Use Your Phone in Church

A recent pew survey on cell phone ettiequte revealed that 96% of people think it’s generally “not ok” to use your cell phone during church. As a pastor, I’m thinking this has to be a case “do as I say, not as I do” because I see far more than 4% of people whipping out their phones in church. Yes, you could be meditating deeply on Psalm 23 but let’s be real, you’re more likely rejoicing over your new high score at Subway Surfer. 

As a pastor it would be easy to look out over the congregation and rebuke everyone for being more interested in Words with Friends than in the Word of God; for spending time on Facebook when you could be having FaceTime with your Heavenly Father. But there’s a reason we pastors haven't got together and unilaterally banned cell phones in church complete with a signal jammer. The reason is that your smartphone, used with wisdom, can actually help you get more out of church. So here’s four pastor approved tips for using for smartphone in church.

1. The New Pocket Bible

This is the obvious one and while I still prefer the Bible in printed form, I think it’s awesome that we can have God’s Word complete with a million different translations at the touch of an app. Having scripture projected on the screen is great but there’s something about looking it up for yourself. By all means bring your printed Bible to church and actually flip through the pages to find that scripture your pastor is referencing. But for those days you forget, use your favorite Bible app to look up that verse. And if you use an app like Blue Letter Bible you can even see if your pastor is parsing that Greek verb correctly.

I can’t imagine what the church fathers would have given to have the entirety of scripture tucked in their pocket. Sure would’ve have beat lugging around giant scrolls (a Torah scroll can weigh up to 20lbs).

2. Start Typing

It’s been proven by multiple studies that the best way to retain information is taking hand-written notes. There’s no substitute for a notebook and a good pen, but for those times you don’t have one, use your smartphone. There’s hundreds of note-taking apps, so choose one and type away. My personal favorite is Evernote where you can actually record what's being said and it will attach the audio to your notes.

Don’t try and write down everything, but rather, capture the main points and scriptures. Then as the message concludes write down some action points for yourself in the coming week and what the Holy Spirit is saying specifically to you through the message. 

Some churches (including mine) even put notes and ways to interact with the service in You Version Bible app

3. Share the Love

You’re already telling your friends and followers about that awesome restaurant or that amazing movie you saw last night. So why not also use your phone and online influence to share about the great things God is doing at your church. 

Share what God spoke to you, how worship ministered to you, or a picture that captures what God was doing that morning. It may just be your posts about church that break someone’s preconceived notion of church and cause them to check it out for themselves.

Just don’t spend your time crafting the perfect post when you should be listening to the sermon. There’s plenty of time to share after church is over.

4. Airplane Mode Is Your Friend

The biggest problem with using your smartphone to look up Bible verses or to take notes is that distractions are only a tap away. In a matter of a second you can go from checking out John 3:16 to checking out how many “likes” your coffee pic from this morning has garnered. 

No matter how hard you try there’s always something ready to distract you and take your attention away from what’s happening in church. If you’re going to use your phone in church, turn on airplane mode when you arrive and this will eliminate most of the distractions that your phone could cause, but allow you to still look up Scripture and take notes. 

My final suggestion is this; if you know your phone is a distraction to you during church, just go cold turkey. Leave it in the car or turn it completely off until church is over. Nothing’s worse than missing what God has for you or how God wants you to minister to someone else that Sunday because you can’t keep your face out of your phone. 

Do you use your smartphone in church? If so, comment and share you use it without letting it become a distraction.

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10 Things I've Learned in 10 Years of Marriage

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10 Things I've Learned in 10 Years of Marriage

I’m not in the ministry of marriage counseling, and probably never will be. And I realize, of course, that 10 years is nothing more than a good start compared to some of you veterans out there. 

But with the average American marriage ending at eight years, it does feel like at least a small sort of accomplishment. And it has been the most instructive decade of my life, to say the least. 

So here are 10 things I’ve learned in 10 years of marriage. I would love to hear what 20 or 30 years (or 2 or 3) has taught you, in the comments! In no particular order:

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Love Is Warfare

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Love Is Warfare

We are about to enter a season of teaching and learning at Church in the Word with the core theme of Spiritual Warfare. During the introduction of these classes, the Holy Spirit was alighting on a thread; in some cases it was unspoken. Unspoken, but clearly and evidently at work in the teachers and presenters; the Love of God. The sense of it prompted the reflection that follows.

Keep Yourselves

Jude admonishes the believer, “Keep yourselves in the Love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” In this day and time, the emphasis of these words must be on “keeping ourselves” in the Love. It may seem redundant or an understatement to say that there is hardly anything in the life around us that aids us in loving God and loving people; but this is our first and greatest charge.

A simple trip to the store in traffic in the suburbs on a Saturday morning is enough of a slice of life to cover all the bases; impatience, self-centeredness, lawlessness, anger, evidences of partying and it's aftermath abound. And the list goes on. It is difficult to navigate through this traffic of strife and hot-mess emotion while overcoming it to be a carrier and demonstrator of the Love of God. And this is just a simple trip to get milk, bread and eggs.

What happens when the manifestation of hatred toward God increases? Violent and anti-Christ sentiments will grow worse and worse. Jesus taught us that if we are faithful in the little things, greater opportunities will come our way. From what do we draw to have the ability to overcome the rising tide of the manifestation of godless agendas and outright attempts to annihilate the evidences of true God- like living in our world?

Full of Grace AND Truth

Love is the warfare; the Love of God to us and the Love of God through us. Love wins. Always. But only True Love wins. Not a sentimental permissive love. The Love that wins is a two-edged sword “full of Grace and Truth”. There is no Love for people without the Love for God. This is the beginning of the warfare. Oh, it all seems so basic and the words so common until the rubber meets the road. The “faith that overcomes the world” is rooted in an experience with the keeper of Grace and Truth that few of us take the time to know. Love that wars effectively is birthed in deep and hidden intimacy most needed and least practiced. We must get to our “closets” to find that ever increasing, tangible, relentless Love.

These words are only platitudes or lyrics in a song if the reader is not involved. Get into the closet and get into a class. Go deeper than ever before. Keep yourselves in the Love of God, dig into His Word. Go in and out while you are being over-filled. Emerge to practice, even in the littlest things, the aggressive, consuming and fierce Love of God that leaves only ashes in its path. The remnants of war; selfishness, lawlessness, witchcraft and rebellion burnt to a crisp by the declaration of Truth and the demonstration of Love. 

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Why Young Adult Ministry?

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Why Young Adult Ministry?

September 19, 2015, is a big day for the young adults here at Church in the Word. We are launching the new Young Adults Ministry for YAs between the ages of 18 and 28.

Why a Young Adult Ministry?

So this group is, in a way, meant for someone like him: a place to immerse yourself in the love of Jesus Christ with fellow brothers and sisters in Christ who each have their own unique relationship and journey with the Lord and can challenge and encourage one another.

But that’s only one reason to start a group like this.

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3 Reasons To Plant Yourself In Church

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3 Reasons To Plant Yourself In Church

My first semester of Bible college, for the first time in my life, I bounced around from church to church trying to find one that fit. Those four months were some of the driest times for me spiritually even though I was immersed in Bible knowledge more than ever before. At the beginning of the next semester I heard the Lord clearly tell me, “Plant yourself in a church and start serving.” Reluctantly, that’s what I did, and not surprisingly the dryness faded away, and that choice would lead me to my first pastoral staff position and so much more.

3 REASONS TO GET INVOLVED IN A LOCAL CHURCH

There are so many reasons to plant yourself in a local church, but let me give you just three.

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The War Room

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The War Room

One of the greatest takeaways and reminders from this film is that there’s a real battle going on for our families with a real enemy, but most of us have never been trained to fight the right way. Miss Clara observes, "Very few of us know how to fight the right way." We fight each other instead of recognizing our common spiritual enemy, she says, the thief who comes, "to steal, kill and destroy."

This is a reminder we could all use daily when we're tempted to incite war with our spouses, children, friends, or whoever happens to tick us off at the moment. Miss Clara challenges Liz to fight the right way, not in her marriage but for her marriage in prayer, and tells her about her favorite room: her “war room” closet where she has years of prayers for friends and family members plastered to the walls.

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When the Kids Go Back to School, Don’t Leave God Behind

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When the Kids Go Back to School, Don’t Leave God Behind

We are approaching that time of year again when kids are heading back to school. As parents, it is so important to remember that our children are a gift from the Lord and that His expectation of us is that we are doing our part to train them up in the way that they should go (Proverbs 22:6).

The definition of training carries with it the idea of teaching and forming by practice. Practice is something that you do over and over and over again. While your child may be going off to school where others will teach them about math, reading and science, it is your job to teach them about God and His Word. Deuteronomy 11:19 says, “You shall teach them (God’s Words) to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.”

Here are several simple things that you can do to help your child stay in God’s presence even when they are away at school. 

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I Don't Want To Be Who I Am

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I Don't Want To Be Who I Am

In the past few weeks with all the news about Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner and then the Supreme court decision on same-sex marriage, I’ve heard this one phrase proclaimed more than ever before and each time I would hear it it would bother me tremendously, but it wasn't till recently that I truly could articulate why.

"Just Be Who You Are"

As I heard people talk about their support for these decisions they’d always say something to the effect of, “I’m just so glad they now get to be who they really are.” But here’s the reality: I don’t want to be who I am. Who I am on my own is selfish, self-serving, enslaved to sin, broken, confused, depressed, directionless, purposeless, and hopeless. That might seem harsh, but that’s my reality apart from Jesus. Paul describes who we are without Christ in Ephesians 2:

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Reach the Neighborhood

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Reach the Neighborhood

Each day before I walk out my door, I remind myself that the greatest need this world has is Jesus Christ. Then I remind myself that He is in me, the hope of glory (Col 1:27). Reaching your neighborhood for Jesus is not rocket science. In fact many times it’s the simple things that make the biggest difference. Here’s a few things that have helped me, and I believe they will help you to as you get intentional about reaching your neighbors with the love of Christ.

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