CHURCH / OUTREACH
12 signs your church might be inwardly focused (Chuck Lawless): Most churches have more of an inward focus than an outward one. Here are some signs that your church might be inwardly focused. Read more at ChuckLawless.com.
Avoiding difficult people is not Christlike love (Maria Baer): It’s inevitable that we’ll encounter people we find annoying or depressing or weird or clingy or even downright mean in our small groups or pews. The author gives some excellent practical and biblical insights to help all us love difficult people. Read more at The Gospel Coalition.
10 reasons we don’t want to confront sin (Chuck Lawless): The Bible assumes that we will help each other walk in faithfulness (e.g., 1 Thess. 5:12-22). That process includes confronting others when necessary (Matt. 18:15-20). Many of us, though, aren’t very willing to confront a brother or sister in sin. Read these reasons for this reticence, and consider what you’d do to overcome them. Read more at ChuckLawless.com.
CHURCH / RENEWAL
3 non-negotiables for revitalizing a dying church (Joy Allmond): Two pastors, who have seen revival in their churches, share three important things to do in revitalizing a church. Read more at Facts & Trends.
How to fall in ministry (Jared C. Wilson): Looking back over the wreckage of so many disgraced pastors and failed ministries, what are some common denominators across the landscape of impurity in the pastorate? If you wanted to fall, what would you make sure you’d do? And what do to if you fall? Read more at The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
Do you have an Epaphras? (Josh Buice): Far too often many churches are praying for growth, but it’s numerical rather than spiritual growth that seems to be the focus. While we should pray for numerical growth, the foundation that such growth stands upon is spiritual growth. Epaphras spent time praying for the church in Colossae to become strong and complete—fully developed in their spiritual growth. Read more at Delivered by Grace.
‘Your suffering is never for nothing’ (Elisabeth Elliot): Suffering is an irreplaceable medium through which I learned an indispensable truth: God is God. Read more of this excerpt from Elisabeth Elliot’s book at The Gospel Coalition.
How to overlook an offense (Scott Hubbard): Peter, writing to Christians familiar with offense, comes alongside Proverbs to show us a different way: “This is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly” (1 Peter 2:19). In three little words, Peter shares one of the keys to overlooking offenses great and small: we become mindful of God. Read more at Desiring God.
Your fight against sin is normal (Brian Hedges): Have you hit the wall in your fight for holiness? If you find yourself in an ongoing cycle of three steps forward, two steps back; if your prayers, resolutions, and frustrated attempts at mortification still leave you struggling with the same old sins; if you are weary in the race set before you and feel ready to quit, you’ve hit the wall. Don’t stay discouraged. There is hope for weary saints. Take heart from these truths: the conflict is normal, the battle is winnable, and the war is coming to an end. Read more at Desiring God.
Have we become Pharisees? 5 evaluation questions (James Williams): Nobody wants to be a Pharisee, yet our flesh seems naturally bent in that direction. The good news of the gospel seems too easy for our works-based, achievement-driven hearts. We know Christ achieved it all, but we still want to contribute. Even while we proclaim the gospel of grace, we fight the intense pull toward self-righteousness. Read more at Growing in Grace.
PREACHING / TEACHING
Context matters: The unashamed, approved worker (Peter Krol): Perhaps you’ve seen the latest internet firestorm where that Bible teacher was attacked and discredited for saying something controversial. Or perhaps you’ve been through the drama in your own church where a faction of people didn’t like the pastor and called for his removal, or at least for a recanting of a certain teaching. These situations are scary and tense, drawing out the worst in all of us. Context matters. When we learn to read the Bible properly—and not as a collection of disconnected proverbial sayings—we’ll find that some of our most famous mantras connect in unexpected and profound ways with real life. Read more at Knowable Word.