The church has had enough
spin, denial and closed-door settlements. Leaders must demonstrate humility and
A few years ago a minister
in my city went through a divorce, and the messy details of the settlement
between the pastor and his wife were reported in our newspaper. But when the
divorce was finalized there was no public statement. The man’s wife disappeared
from the stage, her photo vanished from the church website and nothing further
was said. Zip. Nada. No comment.
The message: It’s none of your business what happened
between the pastor and his wife. He’s the anointed messenger of God. Just
follow him. read more
Don’t lose hope. God has
promised to answer when we persevere.
So you pray for something
for years and then you wake up one day, breathe a big sigh and say to yourself:
This is crazy. Nothing is happening. God
must not be listening.
Congratulations. If this
has been your experience you are not alone. You’ve been enrolled in the School
of Persevering Prayer, and it’s not a one-semester class. It’s a lifelong
journey designed to stretch your faith, develop your character, purify your
motives, test your patience and increase your capacity to know and experience
God’s amazing love. read more
a nation known for communist oppression, intimidation and religious legalism,
the Holy Spirit is sending a fresh wind of freedom.
is a national holiday in Romania, and I celebrated it last Monday with members
of Bucharest Christian Center, a growing congregation in the Romanian capital.
The church was founded by my friend Ioan Ceuta, 54, a brave Christian leader
who has served as president of the Assemblies of God since 1996. Like so many
Romanian pastors who lived through the communist era, Ceuta has walked through
fire and emerged stronger in his faith.
was not easy for Ceuta and his wife, Emilia, during the dark days of Nicolae
Ceau?escu, the Romanian dictator who
ruled with an iron fist and built one of the world’s largest buildings (second
only to the Pentagon). Covert government informants strictly monitored all
pastors during Ceau?escu’s era. The
construction of church buildings was forbidden, frequency of meetings was
limited, and Bibles were blacklisted as “mystical literature.” read more
passion for revival I saw in eastern Europe this week rivaled what I have seen
in Africa or Asia.
is often described as post-Christian, and some people have already given up on
the continent. We’ve heard discouraging statistics about mosques replacing
churches in England. We know about dismal numbers of churchgoers in Germany and
France. Some people assume that the region that gave us the Protestant
Reformation is now a spiritual wasteland.
that’s not what I found in Hungary this past week. On Sunday I preached to a
congregation that meets in what used to be a communist hall in the Budapest
suburb of Szigetszentmiklos. The Free Christian Church,
a lively Pentecostal group pastored by Josef and Lila Gere,
was celebrating its 20th anniversary—and the mayor of the town showed up for
the service along with the local minister of religious affairs. read more
A Canadian couple’s decision to raise a “genderless”
child has perplexed me.
I was scratching my head last week after hearing
about the couple from Toronto, Canada, who announced they were going to raise a
“genderless” child. Kathy Witterick and David Stocker, parents
of two boys named Jazz and Kio, had a third child named
Storm on New Year’s Day. Witterick announced to her
family last month that she intends to keep the child’s gender a secret and let
him/her figure it out on his own.
So far mom and dad have not
granted interviews, but the mother said in a letter to the Edmonton Journal,
published May 30, that letting Storm determine his/her gender was “a tribute to
freedom and choice in place of limitation.” read more
Last week in Singapore I saw the future of
Christianity—and it has a definite Chinese flavor.
Last week during a trip to Singapore I enjoyed all
the tastes and smells of China—chili crab, salted milk crab, prawns, ban
mian (flat noodles), bak chang (rice
dumplings), lychee fruits, chicken feet (not my
favorite!) and several varieties of fish. But the flavor I savored most was
found in the worship times at Cornerstone Community Church. read more
popular author’s controversial book Love
Wins celebrates God's love but drifts dangerously into Universalism.
usually quick to speak my mind. But in the case of Rob Bell's controversial
book Love Wins, I've withheld comment
until now because (1) I don't think Christians should judge books before
reading them; (2) the theological issues addressed require careful analysis;
and (3) I have many young friends who are fans of Bell's books, and they may
write me off if I don't treat him fairly.
I'll begin with a compliment. Bell is a masterful writer whose prose is poetic.
As pastor of the 7,000-member Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan, Bell has
gained a following because of his casual style, his ultra-cool Nooma videos and
the previous books he's released with Christian publisher Zondervan (especially
Velvet Elvis). read more
Here are three reasons why Harold
Camping's end-times prediction should be ignored.
I spent the past week in
Guyana, a South American nation where the people are friendly, the food is
spicy and churches are growing at a healthy pace. But Christians there face a
serious challenge because of the sad legacy of Jim Jones, the American cult
leader who ordered his followers to drink poisoned Kool-Aid at their compound
in Jonestown in 1978. The mass suicide, which killed 909 people (including
Jones), went down in history as the world's worst example of religion gone
"Even today, the Jim
Jones tragedy poses a problem of credibility for us," one pastor in the
city of Corriverton told me last week. read more
Some people cheered when the world’s
most hated terrorist was killed. But I don’t think God was happy about his
Like many other Americans who stayed up
late to hear the news about Osama bin Laden on Sunday night, I had one eye on
my television and the other on my laptop. I was waiting for President Obama to
make his statement about the demise of the world’s most infamous terrorist, but
the White House was moving as slow as Vermont syrup in December. When Obama
finally stood in front of his teleprompter, many of us had already finished the
story—by tweeting, texting and posting entries on Facebook.
These days we don’t just sit and watch
TV. We are involved in the story, and sometimes we know the news before Wolf
Blitzer does. Empowered by our lightning-fast digital media, we are the
commentators now. Yet as I read some of the verbal shots fired into the
Twitterverse by this new army of armchair journalists (“May Osama rot in hell!”
for example, or “I’m glad he’s fish food now”), I had to ask myself: Is it
right for Christians to rejoice over the death of a criminal—even one who
masterminded a plot so evil as the 9/11 attacks? read more
A small congregation in Puerto Rico
reminded me that we can’t build the New Testament church without supernatural
Last week I preached for several days at Casa del Padre, a small but growing church near San Juan, Puerto Rico. The congregation meets in a rented
facility with tile floors and folding chairs. They don’t have a worship leader
yet, so a CD player provides accompaniment for the singing. The pastor, a
gentle guy named Luis, keeps a second job to pay his family’s bills. Up until a
few weeks ago, the church’s office was in his garage.
Casa del Padre is not a
fancy place. But the church’s lack of sophistication is overshadowed by an
amazing level of love. When I ministered on Sunday morning, the meeting began
at 10:30 a.m. yet I didn’t leave the building until 5 p.m.—not because I preached
too long but because nobody wanted to go home. read more