Listening to Emotions—and Learning Love

depressing holidays

Today’s guest post is by Dr. Daniel Bush, author of Live in Liberty: The Spiritual Message of Galatians, Embracing God as Father: Christian Identity in the Family of God, and the forthcoming book, Undefended: Discovering God when Your Guard Is Down. Dan holds a B.Sci. from Michigan Technological University, the M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from the University of Aberdeen (Scotland).

Another Christmas and New Year are in the books, and soon the decorations will be repacked in basement boxes, the tree taken down, and the last leftovers devoured. Life will return to “normal,” and we’ll settle into the struggle to get the year correct on our checks.

Yet for some, the festivities haven’t been joyous, warm, or celebratory. Instead, they were marked by sadness, loneliness, long-frozen memories thawed only to be burnt. It was a time of searching for distractions; a period of bewilderment that doused kindling joy with the chill of doubt; a season of awakening to unfulfilled longings and a cry for compassion.

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Church Website Advice: Design Your Site for Visitors

church website

“Think of [your website] as like your online home base,” says Justin Wise, author of The Social Church. When people arrive at your website, they should be able to find their way around and get an accurate feel for what it’s like to set foot in your church.

“Before people come to our actual churches, they’re checking us out online,” Justin says. If your church website isn’t optimized for visitors, people who find you online have a hard time deciding if you’re worth checking out in person.

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How Christian Conferences Are Becoming More Accessible

Christian conferences
It’s no secret that conferences are expensive. Unless you live in the right city and incredible opportunities are in your own backyard, the biggest cost of that high-caliber teaching isn’t actually the teaching—it’s getting to the conference and reserving a place to stay for the weekend.

Thanks to technology, where you live or how much you make doesn’t determine who you can learn from. High-caliber education is increasingly becoming more accessible, and so are conferences.

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15 Ways to Read the Bible with Fresh Eyes

Fresh start
Reading the Bible regularly can be hard. Sometimes it can feel like it takes too much work to understand what Scripture is really saying. And the last thing you want is for your Bible reading to become stale, or to feel forced.

If Bible study matters to you but you’re struggling to keep going, try some of these techniques.

Here are 15 ways to read the Bible with fresh eyes:

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7 Things the Bible Says about Orphans

Psalm 68:5

The Bible has a lot to say about orphans. The Hebrew word for orphan is yatom—usually translated fatherless. It describes a child who lacks the protection and provision of a family.

The best modern equivalent for this type of person is a foster child—a child whose parents are either unable or unwilling to care for them.

Let’s see what the Bible has to say about them.

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27 Christian Quotes about Happiness

christian happiness quotes aw tozer

At the heart of Randy Alcorn’s latest book, Happiness, is the simple belief that Christians, having a direct relationship with the source of all happiness, should be happy.

This isn’t a call for delusional ignorance of the terrible things that happen all around us, or the sinful embrace of all things that may produce some fleeting glimpse of happiness. Alcorn spent three years compiling hundreds of pages of research to demonstrate that God does desire for us to be happy, and that Christians have historically embraced that Christianity leads to happiness.

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The Alternate Universe: True Christian Spirituality

true Christian spiritualityToday’s guest post is by Dr. Daniel Bush, author of Live in Liberty: The Spiritual Message of Galatians and Embracing God as Father: Christian Identity in the Family of God. Dan holds a B.Sci. from Michigan Technological University, the M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from the University of Aberdeen (Scotland).

I don’t recall how the conversation turned to the topic of hair. My sister-in-law noticed I still had a full head of hair, which is nothing spectacular, except when compared to my brother, who is growing bald patches where he ought to be growing luscious locks. So, I strutted and made a joke about Rogaine, then got honest: My brother is losing hair, but what he has is dark while mine is beginning to look like winter preemptively struck—morning frost everywhere.

Gray hair means I’m getting old and tired, and one of the things I’m tired of is comparisons, which are a gentle way of judging. We compare everything: our green lawns, our athletic and academic children, our fulfilled lives, our sin, and then we use social media to prove to ourselves and others that we actually have a life, a bunch of friends, a brilliant smile, and can strike a pose with the best of them. Beneath it all, however, we’re unconsciously leveling all of these things, attempting to compare goodness. It’s mostly innocent; nevertheless, the impulse to compare goodness is as powerful as the impulse to get a cup of coffee on a frosty winter morning.

There’s one more thing making my hair grey: Bumping into the notion that following Jesus is really all about “getting better”—that is to say, Christian spirituality is about putting an end to all of our sinning.

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How the Church Can Respond to Troubling Statistics about Millennials

millenials

Dan Lovaglia, director of leadership development at Awana, says there’s a disconnect between the church’s objectives and our results—particularly in children’s ministries. Across denominations, ministries and churches share many of the same goals for discipling kids—and we experience many of the same problems reaching those goals.

The issue isn’t how we are addressing the individual problems with children’s ministries. Dan says the issue is discipleship.

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Evaluating C.S. Lewis’ “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord” Trilemma

who is jesus

In George Marsden’s brand new “biography” of C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity (part of Princeton University Press’s “Lives of Great Religious Books” series), Marsden offers a thorough round-up of opinion on Lewis’ famous “trilemma.” Lewis said to the British nation through the BBC broadcast talks which became his influential book,

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about [Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (52)

Liar, lunatic, or Lord. That’s the trilemma.
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7 Problems Facing Children’s Ministry

problems with children's church

Providing separate ministries for children, teens, and young adults is how churches lean into knowledge of childhood development and adolescence. It’s how the body of Christ walks beside parents to teach kids to embrace and live out the gospel. It’s about meeting kids on their level, and sharing the gospel in a way that makes sense to them.

But children’s ministry doesn’t always live up to our ideals.

In Relational Children’s Ministry: Turning Kid-Influencers Into Disciple Makers, Awana’s Dan Lovaglia highlights some of the key issues with children’s ministry today.

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